Tampere University of Technology

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Software Quality Concerns in a Commercial Setting

Research output: Book/ReportDoctoral thesisCollection of Articles


Original languageEnglish
PublisherTampere University of Technology
Number of pages238
ISBN (Electronic)978-952-15-2539-1 
ISBN (Print)978-952-15-2531-5
Publication statusPublished - 25 Feb 2011
Publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)

Publication series

NameTampere University of Technology. Publication
PublisherTampere University of Technology
ISSN (Print)1459-2045


Quality improvements in small and medium-sized software organisations can be done in many ways. Companies can try to implement one of the well-established quality improvement frameworks. However, many reports from practitioners show that small and medium-sized organisations may not be prepared for fully-fledged and possibly expensive improvement programmes. An alternative to official quality improvement programmes may be an in-house initiative. Due to their size and often to the organisational culture small and medium-sized software organisations may encourage grass-root quality improvement initiatives. In this thesis a grass-root initiative for a software quality improvement is presented. The initiative proposes an alternative path of quality improvement for small and medium-sized organisations utilising their size and culture. This thesis proposes five areas of quality improvements and concrete measures that can be taken for quality improvements in those areas. The improvement areas were selected based on the experiences gained while working in the case software company Solita. The areas were selected as reaction actions to observed needs for improvements, or as proactive actions preparing for known organisational changes. The five improvement areas discussed in this thesis address selected improvement needs at the organisational level and those directly related to software development. The improvement needs derive from experiences in the case organisation, which uses subcontracting partners for development. The use of subcontractors also resulted in some projects being conducted as multi-site development. Therefore, the proposed improvements reflect the organisational settings. Concrete improvements are proposed for the outsourcing-partner selection process. Moreover, recommendations on agile methods usage in development projects with special emphasis on subcontractor cooperation are proposed. Furthermore, specific practices for multi-site development are proposed, as well as a framework for open source component selection for reuse in commercial software solutions. Finally, specific improvements in design of distributed systems are proposed. Each of the improvement areas consists of concrete improvements that proved to be successful to various degrees. However, the variety of areas shows how a software organisation can practically implement an in-house software quality improvement initiative. In this thesis three research questions are answered. The questions focus on how concrete improvements can be implemented in selected areas of a software organisation's operations. Moreover, the questions aim at answering how an in-house quality improvement initiative can be implemented, and how it can be regarded as complementary to official improvement frameworks, which allows a software organisation to implement a fully-fledged quality improvement programme when it is ready. The proposed improvements in various areas were developed and evaluated in a commercial context of a software service company. Some of the initiatives resulted in changes in organisation processes, which indicated their usefulness. Generally, the presented experiences from implementing a grass-root level software quality improvement initiative show that such initiatives driven by individuals or groups of individuals within an organisation are possible. Therefore, other organisations in a similar environment may utilise the results presented as concrete solutions for concrete problems or as an inspiration for encouraging similar improvement initiatives in their organisations.

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