Achieving business excellence in software quality management

Many companies have had difficulties in achieving success with software process improvement initiatives or have had adverse experiences in implementing quality systems. With a plethora of standards available and the numerous frameworks to apply best practice, none appears to act as a panacea to guarantee fulfilment or realise a true Return-on-Investment. This paper proposes a holistic approach to software process improvement, describing a range of supporting tools and methods highlighting a true understanding of the customer base and associated cultures. The research aim was to develop and evaluate a demonstrably effective and efficient software quality management methodology suitable for a technical company. To be effective the methodology must deliver real process improvement conformance to the best practice quality standards. To be efficient the methodology must deliver a real Return-on-Investment. A range of case studies are described including audits, self-assessment, training, system design, marketing, and the people skills associated with a consultation process are all examined in detail. Each case study provided a further opportunity to measure and analyse the success or otherwise of that method for further refinement. The research methodology has demonstrated its success as the data collected during these case studies show that steady improvement in implementing the software quality system has occurred year on year. This success has been validated by third party ISO 9001 assessments and has led to an enhancement in reputation. The approach has overcome cultural resistance and changed working practices. With a philosophy of customer care, consultation, and active engagement, practitioners adopt best-practice quality management principles. The cost effectiveness of this methodology means its adoption could be considered by any organisation whether large or small.