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An Empirical Study of Process Discipline and Software Quality

Paulk, Mark Christopher (2005) An Empirical Study of Process Discipline and Software Quality. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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There is a widespread, but not universal, belief in the software community that software organizations and projects can systematically improve their ability to meet commitments and build high-quality products using principles of software quality management. Quality affects cost and schedule, therefore the engineering practices that affect quality are also a management concern. Understanding the factors that influence software quality is crucial to the continuing maturation of the software industry; an improved understanding of software quality drivers will help software engineers and managers make more informed decisions in controlling and improving the software process.My research is motivated by a desire to understand the effect of disciplined processes and effective teams on improving performance and lessening variability with respect to software quality. Classroom data provides insight into interpersonal differences between competent professionals as increasingly disciplined processes are adopted. Project data using similar processes enables an exploration of the impact of effective teams on software quality.My results show that:* Program size, programmer ability, and disciplined processes significantly affect software quality.* Factors frequently used as surrogates for programmer ability, e.g., years of experience, and technology, e.g., programming language, do not significantly impact software quality.* Recommended practices are not necessarily followed even when processes are consistently performed, e.g., peer reviews may be consistently performed, but the review rates may exceed recommended practice for effective reviews.* When moving from ad hoc processes to disciplined processes, top-quartile performers improve more than 2X; bottom-quartile performers improve more than 4X. * Rigorous statistical techniques that allow for individual differences confirm the importance of process discipline and following recommended practice for improving software quality.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Paulk, Mark
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMazumdar,
Committee MemberKemerer, Chrisckemerer@katz.pitt.eduCKEMERER
Committee MemberRajgopal,
Committee MemberNeedy, Kim
Committee MemberKellner,
Date: 14 October 2005
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 13 July 2004
Approval Date: 14 October 2005
Submission Date: 8 July 2004
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Swanson School of Engineering > Industrial Engineering
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Capability Maturity Model; CMM; defect prediction; mixed models; Personal Software Process; PSP; software defect distributions; software process improvement; software quality; statistical process control; TSP; programmer ability; disciplined processes; Team Software Process
Other ID:, etd-07082004-155917
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:50
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:45


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