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Antecedents and consequences of certification of software engineering processes Fuller, Gordon Keith


Abstract Software development projects are frequently problematic and often fail. Certification of software engineering processes to quality standards such as the ISO 9000 or SEI CMM family of standards may be a viable means of dealing with these problems. Nevertheless, such certification is infrequently sought. This research consists of two investigations, one on the consequences and the other on the antecedents of certification of software engineering processes. The first investigation is comprised of four event studies of the market reaction to announcements of certification of software engineering processes. The first event study shows that in America the market interprets the announcement of certification to ISO 9000 as portending increased future revenue flows for companies that focus on the production of products, but not for companies that produce services. In contrast, the second event study shows that the Japanese market anticipates a reduction in future revenue streams associated with the announcement of certification for companies that focus on the production of services but not for companies producing products. Respectively, the third and fourth event studies found no significant American market response to announcements of assessments using the Software Capability Maturity Model or the Capability Maturity Model Integrated standards. The second investigation used a survey methodology. There was a significant relationship between the likelihood to certify and the competitiveness of the company's marketplace, the size of the company's typical project team, and the anticipated direct costs of certification. No evidence was found to support the hypotheses that risk of failure, size of company, culture of quality, or focus on product versus service were related to likelihood to certify. The most interesting findings are interpreted as follows. The differences between the consequences of certification in Japanese and American markets possibly reflect a American focus on short-term cost reduction when products are produced versus a Japanese longer-term concern over quality issues when services are provided. Although American companies that produce products are likely to see a financial benefit, they are no more likely than those producing services to seek certification, suggesting that reasons other than financial benefit influence decisions to certify.

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