Software process improvement problems in twelve software companies: An empirical analysis

Sarah Beecham*, Tracy Hall, Austen Rainer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper we discuss our study of the problems 12 software companies experienced in software development. In total we present qualitative data collected from 45 focus groups that involved over 200 software staff. We look at how different practitioner groups respond to software process improvement problems. We show our classification and analysis of this data using correspondence analysis. Correspondence analysis is a graphical data representation method new to software development research. The aim of the work we present is to develop a more holistic understanding of the problems practitioners are experiencing in their attempts to improve their software processes. Our main finding is that there is an association between a company's capability maturity and patterns of reported problems. Organizational problems are more associated with high maturity companies than with low maturity companies. Low maturity companies are closely linked to problems relating directly to projects such as documentation, timescales, tools and technology. Our findings also confirm differences in practitioner group problems. Senior managers cite problems with goals, culture and politics. Project managers are concerned with timescales, change management, budgets and estimates. Developers are experiencing problems with requirements, testing, documentation, communication, tools and technology. These associations are displayed graphically through correspondence analysis maps.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-42
Number of pages36
JournalEmpirical Software Engineering
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Capability maturity model
  • Correspondence analysis
  • Empirical study
  • Organization
  • Practitioners
  • Project
  • Software lifecycle
  • Software process improvement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software

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