ISVs not addressing global needs: SEA

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Australian ISVs have failed to implement software process improvement methodologies critical to industry success in the global market, a survey has revealed.

Australian ISVs have failed to implement software process improvement methodologies critical to industry success in the global market, a survey has revealed.

Government-sponsored lobby group Software Engineering Australia (SEA) has announced findings of a survey into the Australian software industry suggesting that implementation of internationally-recognised Software Process Improvement (SPI) methodologies by ISVs here has a long way to go and compares poorly with other emerging markets.

Nathan Brumby, CEO of SEA, said the SEA-commissioned survey by Sweeney Research, 'What's Bugging Australia's Software Industry: 2003 Report', showed that while local understanding and awareness of the value of SPI had improved, few companies had adopted the methodologies.

As a result, software developed here often did not meet international standards such as Capability Maturity Model (CMM), Capability Maturity Model Integrated (CMMI), Six Sigma, RUP or the ISO 9000 global quality standard - a factor that was contributing to low confidence in Australian software both here and overseas, Brumby said.

'There are things they should be doing that they are not aware of that are potentially damaging their businesses,' he said. 'When you look around you see that no companies here are running CMM level 5. Motorola will be the first - assuming they achieve it in November.'

SEA survey results were based on qualitative and quantitative research methods using 500 randomly-selected subscribers to the SEA's Software Journal, including focus groups, executive interviews and telephone surveys that took place 12 to 21 August.

Senior managers, middle managers - including CIOs, IT managers and project managers - and developers, engineers and programmers were surveyed.

'Mainly Australian-owned ISVs with one or two multinationals thrown in,' Brumby said.
Forty-seven percent of the 60 percent of companies surveyed that claimed to implement SPI could not name the SPI methodology used within their organisation, and 71 percent of software developer companies said there was 'room for improvement' in the area of software testing. Only 29 percent of companies surveyed had a budget specifically allocated to SPI.
'We've just seen something like 200 jobs lost offshore [with Infosys] because of that. And there's probably more to come,' Brumby said.

Yet 64 percent of survey respondents viewed SPI as 'very or critically important' to their businesses. Software testing and SPI were ranked in the top five of major industry concerns. While most respondents believed the overall state of software development in Australia was healthy, number one concern was a perceived lack of business opportunities in the industry.

Derek Rippingale, joint MD at Australian ISV Professional Advantage, said he did not think the issue was due to a fault of Australian companies in particular, but a question of how to best win global business. He gave the example of the US market.

'The US is our largest market, but it's very inward-looking. To try to get them to think internationally is quite a problem. So you have to go to the mountain,' Rippingale said.
Australian ISVs could work harder to ensure their work met internationally-recognised standards, so that customers overseas could trust they wouldn't be left high and dry by a vendor who was physically a long way away when things went wrong, Rippingale pointed out.

SPI is about having a formal way of achieving higher levels of process maturity and software quality, improving efficiencies and delivering consistent quality product through the practical application of methodologies.

The European Software Institute had found that successful SPI programs can reduce the number of defects delivered to customers 95 percent and cut software development schedules 71 percent, SEA said in a statement. Survey results would be discussed in more depth at upcoming SEA roadshows in Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart, Adelaide and Canberra, Brumby said.


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