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Software Processes for Small Enterprises


The mandate of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Sub-Committee 7 (SC7) is to develop, maintain, promote and facilitate IT standards required by global markets to meet business and user requirements concerning Software and Systems Engineering. There are currently over 16 separate Working Groups (WG’s) specializing in areas such as: Software Process Assessment (WG10), Software Life Cycles for Very Small Enterprises (WG24) and Software Testing (WG26).

Lero, the Irish Software Engineering Research Centre is one of only two Irish organisations officially to represent Ireland’s Software and Systems Engineering interests at ISO/IEC JTC1/SC7 level.


Working Group 24

What is WG24?

Ultimately, ISO/JTC1/SC7/WG24 is creating a new standard (ISO 29110) for use by very small software enterprises. The rational behind the development of this standard has been described by WG24 as follows:

The Software Industry recognizes very small enterprises for their contribution of valuable products and services. As software quality increasingly becomes a subject of concern, and as process approaches are maturing and earning the confidence of companies, the use of ISO/IEC JTC1/SC7 international standards is spreading in organizations of all sizes. However, these standards were not written for very small development organizations, those with 1 to 25 employees, and are consequently difficult to apply in such settings. A new ISO/IEC JTC1/SC7 Working Group has been established to address these difficulties by developing profiles and providing guidance for compliance with ISO software engineering standards.


How can ISO 29110 Help Irish Companies?

Small Irish software companies have no or very limited ways of being recognized as enterprises that produce quality software systems in their domain. WG 24 will develop several products to give small enterprises a better opportunity to develop high-quality products on time and to make a profit in the process. It will include an overview, framework, profile and taxonomy, leading to a standard that will enable the development of guides for engineering, management and assessment. It will also be the first ISO/IEC standard (to our knowledge) that is being designed to be totally web-accessible, including training tools and guidelines.

As part of its work WG24 conducted a survey (345 companies from 20 countries) to find out more about the small enterprise’s needs. It is interesting to note that in terms of certification and recognition, only 18% of very small enterprises (VSEs) are certified and over 74% indicated that it was important to be either recognized or certified. Of that group, ISO certification was requested by 40%; market recognition requested by 28% and only 4% were interested in a national certification.

The Irish software industry needs to educate its managers in a software process improvement (SPI) and quality agenda. Given the large number of VSEs operating in the Irish software sector and the need for global competitiveness with a quality orientation, the potential role of ISO/IEC 29110 for the Irish software industry is immense. It is therefore vital that Ireland has a role in shaping this new standard and accordingly we must maintain our current status as a key player in the development of this standard. Furthermore, Ireland must opt to be an early adopter / test-bed for the standard, thus allowing Ireland an even greater voice in the development of the standard.


Deployment Packages

A deployment package is a set of artifacts developed to facilitate the implementation of a set of practices, of the selected framework, in a VSE. But, a deployment package is not a process reference model. The elements of a typical deployment package are: process description (e.g. activities, inputs, outputs, and roles), guide, template, checklist, example, presentation material, reference and mapping to standards and models, and a list of tools. Packages are designed such that a VSE can implement its content, without having to implement the complete framework at the same time.

Project Management - This deployment kit has been developed by Lero as part of Lero's work in WG24.


Whom to contact for more information?

Two Lero researchers Dr. Rory O’Connor from Lero@DCU and Dr. Marty Sanders from Lero@UL are the current Lero representatives to ISO/IEC JTC1/SC7.


Links to ISO WG24 Information