University of Oulu

Implementing a value-based approach to software assessment and improvement

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Author: Ojala, Pasi1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Science, Department of Information Processing Science
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: 2006
Publish Date: 2006-11-01
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Academic dissertation to be presented, with the assent of the Faculty of Science of the University of Oulu, for public defence in Auditorium IT115, Linnanmaa, on November 10th, 2006, at 12 noon
Reviewer: Professor Hannu Jaakkola
Professor Jürgen Münch


Software has become an important part of our everyday life in the form of various information processing intensive products and services. The number of companies producing software has risen considerably and at the same time competition between software businesses has greatly intensified.

During the last decades software process improvement (SPI) has been recognized as a usable possibility to increase the quality of software development. Implemented SPI investments have often indicated increased process capabilities as well. Recently more attention has been focused on the costs of SPI as well as on the cost-effectiveness and productivity of software development, although the roots of economic-driven software engineering originate from the very early days of software engineering research.

This research tries to advance the concepts, principles and practical methods of economic-driven software engineering by associating them with SPI concepts, theories and software process assessment methods, in particular, capability-maturity -based assessment methods. This is done in part by presenting an analysis of the economic-driven view of software development and in part by discussing the SPI context and cost-efficiency characteristics.

As a result of this analysis work, a value-based approach is adopted in the study, involving definition of the essential concepts of value, cost and worth in software development. These definitions originate from the Value Engineering (VE) method, originally applied and developed for the needs of the production industry. Therefore, for the purposes of this study these concepts are firstly justified and secondly defined.

In order to study and evaluate the value-based approach, a method called value assessment is developed and later on also combined with capability-maturity -based assessment and called the Value Enhanced Assessment (VEA) method. The combination is seen to respond even better to the overall challenges of software development and SPI. Although VEA is used here only for research purposes, it is a rational outcome of the value-based approach and developed in the context of the BOOTSRAP software process assessment method.

The results show that even though there is still much to do in making the economic-driven view complete in software engineering, the value-based approach outlines a way towards a more comprehensive understanding of it. In addition, value-based methods are most likely to be needed to complete existing capability-maturity -based assessment methods, such as BOOTSTRAP.

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Series: Acta Universitatis Ouluensis. A, Scientiae rerum naturalium
ISSN-E: 1796-220X
ISBN: 951-42-8212-4
ISBN Print: 951-42-8211-6
Issue: 470
Copyright information: © University of Oulu, 2006. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.