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Validating the ISO/IEC 15504 Measure of Software Requirements Analysis Process Capability

: Emam, K. el; Birk, A.


IEEE transactions on software engineering 26 (2000), No.6, pp.541-566 : Ill., Lit.
ISSN: 0098-5589
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IESE ()
software process assessment; software process improvement; standard; software quality; validity; predictive validity; requirements engineering process; requirements analysis process; empirical evaluation

ISO/IEC 15504 is an emerging international standard on software process assessment. It defines a number of software engineering processes, and a scale for measuring their capability. One of the defined processes is software requirements analysis (SRA). A basic premise of the measurement scale is that higher process capability is associated with better project performance (i.e., predictive validity). This paper describes an empirical study that evaluates the predictive validity of SRA process capability. Assessments using ISO/IEC 15504 were conducted on 56 projects world wide over a period of two years. Performance measures on each project were also collected using questionnaires, such as the ability to meet budget commitments and staff productivity. The results provide strong evidence of predictive validity for the SRA process capability measure used in ISO/IEC 15504, but only for organisations with more than 50 IT Staff. Specifically, a strong relationship was found between the implementation of requirements analysis practices as defined in ISO/IEC 15504 and the productivity of software projects. For smaller organisations evidence of predictive validity was rather weak. This can be interpreted in a number of different ways: that the measure of capability is not suitable for small organisations, or that the SRA process capability has less affect on project performance for small organisations.