ERCIM News No.38 - July 1999

European Software Institute and IEI-CNR to launch a Qualification Scheme for Software Process Assessors

by José Arias, Fabrizio Fabbrini, Mario Fusani, Vinicio Lami, Giuseppe Magnani

The SPICE project (Software Process Improvement and Capability dEtermination) began in 1993 to support the development of an ISO/IEC Standard for software process assessment and improvement. The project has been conducted within the context of ISO/IEC JTC1 SC7 WG10 by experts from all over the world. In 1988 it produced a Technical Report (ISO/IEC TR 15504), which includes a process reference model, an assessment model and assessment/ improvement guidance. Experiments of SPICE models and guides, called Trials, have been under way since 1995, and hundreds of worldwide-assessment reports have now been collected. The results of the SPICE Trials are now supporting the current refining work for the final standard, expected by the end of 2001.

As assessment/improvement activities in the SPICE framework are going to have a large impact on the software community (suppliers, organized customers, end users), the need for qualified human resources to enact the Standard is becoming crucial. ISO/IEC TR15504 contains requirements and curricula criteria for Assessors but, as the Standard is approved, people must be ready to work with it.
The organizations involved in the SPICE project are well aware of this. Among them, non-profit public organizations such as the European Software Institute (ESI), Bilbao, Spain, and IEI of the National Research Council, Pisa, Italy, are combining efforts to set up a body capable of running a Qualification Scheme for SPICE Assessors.

The main objectives for defining the Qualification Scheme are the following:

The overall programme is managed by a Qualification Body, an independent authority led by ESI, to corroborate the compatibility of models and methods, provide training courses for potential and existing assessors and support the operating activities and procedures with respect to registration.

Additional participation by other partners, such as the National Agencies for Quality (members of the European Organization for Quality) and other European non-profit organizations will be encouraged. Upon the completion of the Qualification Scheme, the ISO/IEC 15504 Standard for software process assessment will be endorsed, preserving integrity during the assessment activities by guaranteeing that those activities are performed by professionals with a high level of competence.

Thus, the Qualification Scheme does not just cover selection and training, but has been designed to ensure a high level of professionality from assessors, to manage the assessors’ activity database and to collect useful feedback in order to improve the Scheme itself, the SPICE assessments (including Trials) and all the assessments/improvements campaigns performed within any existing framework (such as, for example, ISO 9000).

Please contact:

Mario Fusani - IEI-CNR
Tel: +39 050 593 512

Giuseppe Magnani - ESI, Bilbao
Tel: +34 94 420 95 19

return to the ERCIM News 38 contents page