SPIRE (Software Process Improvement in Regions of Europe)
Startvorteil für kleine Software-Unternehmen
What is SPIRE? SPIRE stands for Software Process Improvement in
Regions of Europe. It is an ESSI dissemination project, financially supported
by the European Commission within the ESPRIT programme, which started
in March 1997 and ends in January 1999. Co-ordinated by the Centre for
Software Engineering in Dublin, Ireland, SPIRE has partners in Austria
(ARC Seibersdorf), Italy (Etnoteam), Sweden (IVF), and Northern Ireland
( Software Industry Federation).
Focus of SPIRE. SPIRE focuses on small software development units -
dubbed SSDs - employing up to 50 software staff, both small software
companies, and small software units in larger user organisations.
SSDs encounter special barriers to successful SPI:
- Firstly, they tend to be less aware than larger firms of the benefits
of systematic SPI aligned to their business needs. They frequently
hold the view that process improvement is too expensive and difficult
to be cost-effective for all but big companies. They are unimpressed
by evidence of cost-effective improvement in much bigger firms. They
need to see concrete results achieved by their peers, with resources
they themselves could find, before changing their view.
- Secondly, even if they recognise the business need, they often do not
know how to improve. They lack the in-house skills and experience to
determine and implement an appropriate plan. They cannot afford the
management attention, staff time or money to be trained or find a
suitable consultant to help them. As a result, at best SPI is delayed,
and at worst no action is taken at all.
- Thirdly, because of their size, day-to-day operational crises,
financial constraints and changing priorities are more likely to drive
an SSD's improvement plan off course, or even cause it to be abandoned.
This cannot be avoided in general, because it is in the nature of SSDs,
particularly those with immature processes, but the risk can be reduced
if improving SSDs join in a network to exchange experience, and support
and inspire each other to maintain momentum.
Objective of SPIRE.
SPIRE aims to lower the barriers preventing SSDs from successfully
applying SPI, by:
- raising awareness of SPI benefits among decision makers in and change
agents in SSDs,
- educating participating SSD managers and staff in practical SPI skills,
- helping participant SSDs to maintain the momentum of their improvement
How is SPIRE doing this?
- Experience Generation. SPIRE selected more than 70 SSDs (out of more
than 200 applicants) in Austria, Ireland, Italy and Sweden, to carry
out short, cost-effective SPI projects, funded up to a maximum of
15,000 ECU. Although some have dropped out for a variety of reasons,
more than 60 projects have either finished, or will finish shortly.
Their experience is being captured in a standard way, to provide a
unique database of SPI experience in small firms.
- Experience Analysis. The experience gained in the most successful
projects is being written up as concise Case Studies. Drawing on
lessons learned in the project, and their own extensive experience.
The partners are preparing a SPIRE Handbook, which will be a valuable
tool to help other SSDs succeed with SPI. The experience will also be
analysed statistically to provide insights into SPI in the smaller
company, to be published as a European Analysis Report.
- Experience Dissemination. The SPIRE partners are widely disseminating
the SPIRE results throughout Europe, focusing in particular on those
SSD Managers who are not already committed to SPI. Mechanisms used
include: advertisements and articles, workshops and presentations,
and distribution of SPIRE materials, both on paper and over the
Case Studies. Between September and November 1998, SPIRE will publish
20 software process improvement Case Studies in each of English, German,
Italian and Swedish, with a smaller number in French. They demonstrate
the business benefit of process improvement to small software firms, and
serve as models for others to emulate. They cover a wide range of
software processes, including requirements management, object oriented
design, testing, project management, and configuration management. SPIRE
is also disseminating Case Studies of software process improvement in
Irish companies generated by the earlier TRI-SPIN Project.
SPIRE Handbook. This is a practical step-by-step guide for smaller
software organisations, about how to carry out successful SPI, meeting
their own business needs. It is written clearly and simply, with the
minimum of SPI jargon, in English. It is designed to be used by both
business managers and change agents to kick-start SPI in their company,
with or without additional assistance from external consultants and trainers.
European Analysis Report. This will be of great value to researchers,
trainers and consultants, and public policy makers, who are interested
in SPI in the smaller organisation. The analysis will cover four main
subject areas: Technical, Educational, Commercial and Human Factors.
A statistical analysis will detect and quantify chains of cause and effect.
How to benefit from SPIRE
- From November 1998 you can download the Case Studies, and the European
Analysis Report from the SPIRE Web-site
http://www.cse.dcu.ie/spire free of charge, in the language of your choice.
- You can also order your copy of the SPIRE Handbook through the Web-site.
A limited number are available free of charge, but thereafter a small
charge will be made to cover expenses, so order your copy as soon as
- Local events are being planned in most regions of Europe to give you
the opportunity to hear more about the improvement projects and how
SPIRE can benefit you. Details of these events will be added to the
SPIRE web site as they are arranged.
- In particular, if you are interested in how smaller software
organisations can benefit from SPI, you should attend the SPIRE98
Workshop to be held in association with EuroSPI98 in Gothenburg,
Sweden, 16. November 1998. This full day workshop mixes Case Studies
presented by SPIRE participant SSDs, with experience reports from
SPIRE, and from ESSI training and dissemination projects DonQ-SPI,
TAPISTRY, SCATE and LSD. Look at
http://www.cse.dcu.ie/spire for details.
Contact for Austria and Germany:
Dipl.-Ing. Erwin Schoitsch
Austrian Research Centers Seibersdorf
A-2444 Seibersdorf, AUSTRIA
tel. +43 2254 780 3117, fax +43 2254 72133