From process improvement to people improvement. Enabling learning in software development
The importance of people factors for the success of software development is commonly accepted. The success of a software project is largely determined by having the right people on the right place at the right time. As software development is a knowledge intensive industry, the 'quality' of these people is primarily determined by their knowledge and skills. Knowledge and skills are an important input to a software development project, however, they are also an important output, because they are continuously enhanced over time. To some extent people always learn during software development projects and learning is also an important prerequisite to improve software development practices. Creating an organisational structure, in which effective learning is established, is a major challenge for organisations in the software domain. On basis of experiences in seven software development projects in several industrial organisations, we illustrate that this is not a repeatable process for which only a procedure or manual needs to be written. On the contrary, managing the learning process of software people appears to be a difficult and complex task, for which a specific management style is required. This paper presents a conceptual model of nine 'learning enablers' to facilitate learning. These enablers help in determining individual and organisational learning during software development projects. The main question that is addressed in this paper is: 'Which factors enable learning in software projects and to what extent?'