Many companies have had difficulties in achieving success with software process
improvement initiatives or have had adverse experiences in implementing quality
systems. With a plethora of standards available and the numerous frameworks to
apply best practice, none appears to act as a panacea to guarantee fulfilment or realise
a true Return-on-Investment. This thesis proposes a holistic approach to software process improvement, describing a range of supporting tools and methods highlighting a true understanding of the customer base and associated cultures. The research aim was to develop and evaluate a demonstrably effective and efficient software quality management methodology suitable for a technical company such as AWE plc. To be effective the methodology must deliver an improved conformance to the quality standards and deliver real process improvement. To be efficient the methodology must deliver a real Return-on-Investment. Case studies on the implementation of the quality system were carried out at AWE
plc. Each case study provided a further opportunity to measure and analyse the
success or otherwise of that method or tool for further refinement. Audits, self-assessment, training, system design, marketing, and the people skills associated with a consultation process are all examined in detail. The research methodology has demonstrated its success as case studies show that steady improvement in implementing the software quality system has occurred year on year. This success has been validated by third party ISO 9001 assessments and has led to an enhancement in AWE plc reputation as a centre of software excellence. The
approach has overcome cultural resistance and changed working practices. With a philosophy of customer care, consultation, and active engagement, practitioners now adopt best-practice quality management principles. The cost effectiveness of this methodology means its adoption could be considered by any organisation whether large or small.
Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.