NZ not keen on maturing software model

A software quality model popular overseas appears to have gained little traction in this country.

A software quality model popular overseas appears to have gained little traction in this country.

While Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMi) has become a popular strategy worldwide among businesses seeking to improve software productivity and quality, Carniegie Mellon university’s Software Engineering Institute has detected “no activity in New Zealand” on the CMMi front, says Nathan Brumby, chief of Software Engineering Australia.

That is to say, no local companies have apparently applied the discipline; many multinationals have it in place and their New Zealand subsidiaries can be assumed to apply CMMi.

Brumby, speaking at a Borland “thought leadership” seminar in Wellington last week, expressed concern that CMMi was not apparently being applied here. It is testimony to good process management in software development and the business processes that surround it. Such assurance is sought in particular when it comes to outsourced development for overseas markets, a venture in which New Zealand Trade and Enterprise has a $200,000 stake.

Failure to implement such standards early was probably influential in such reverses for Australian pride as the successful sale of accredited Canadian software to Australia to administer GST credits and the lucrative gaming industry looking to Eastern Europe for software development partners.

Despite its providing a framework for development, CMMi does not dictate the method used. It is perfectly compatible with “agile” techniques, said Brumby, in answer to a question from the audience.

The capability maturity model came out of the US Department of Defence, and an initial concern with the quality and reliability of its software. It commissioned Carnegie-Mellon to produce principles of best practice, which have since been applied to a broader range of business processes. A number of variants of CMM developed, hence the need to integrate their common features.

CMMi as applied to software prescribes good practice in all stages of software development, from requirements management through project planning, project tracking and oversight, subcontract management, quality assurance to testing and deployment.

Software quality is number four among concerns of IT managers worldwide according to surveys, Brumby says, behind open source, security and intelligent management of data. But statistics for budgets and time overruns on software projects continue to be worrying.

Borland’s own technology director for Australia and New Zealand, Damien Bootsma, outlined the use of Borland tools to control software development. He concentrated on the use of the company’s Caliber RM to record requirements definitions, as data objects, not texts, in a repository, so compliance of later deliverables with the requirements can be reliably checked.

Borland’s Star Team tool assists in the processing of inevitable change requests. Borland’s Datamart takes data from the development process and massages into useful information to assist monitoring.

The suite of tools, he says, can be fitted around CMMi or related disciplines such as Spice, finding favour in Europe.

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