OPT: An Approach to Organizational and Process Improvement

Carolyn B. Seaman and Victor R. Basili

Software development and maintenance enterprises constitute an extremely complex, varied, and poorly understood class of organizations. This is due in part to the newness of the technology and the dynamic nature of the field, but it also stems from the complexity of human-machine interactions. A major driver of the effectiveness of such an organization is the relationship between the software development process and the organizational structure. Little attention has been paid to this relationship, Scacchi’s work [6] being one exception. Our approach addresses this issue in more detail. This paper describes the OPT method for improving both the organizational structures and processes that constitute software development environments. This method is meant to be part of a continuous improvement program, and is modeled after the Quality Improvement Paradigm [1]. The approach includes mechanisms for modeling the relationship between an organizational structure and a development process, for measuring this relationship quantitatively, and for using this information to plan specific improvements to the environment.

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