SEI = ‘Software Engineering Institute’ at Carnegie-Mellon University; initiated by the U.S. Defense Department to help improve software development processes.
CMM = ‘Capability Maturity Model’, developed by the SEI. It’s a model of 5 levels of organizational ‘maturity’ that determine effectiveness in delivering quality software. It is geared to large organizations such as large U.S. Defense Department contractors. However, many of the QA processes involved are appropriate to any organization, and if reasonably applied can be helpful. Organizations can receive CMM ratings by undergoing assessments by qualified auditors.
Level 1 – characterized by chaos, periodic panics, and heroic efforts required by individuals to successfully complete projects. Few if any processes in place; successes may not be repeatable.
Level 2 – software project tracking, requirements management, realistic planning, and configuration management processes are in place; successful practices can be repeated.
Level 3 – standard software development and maintenance processes are integrated throughout an organization; a Software Engineering Process Group is in place to oversee software processes, and training programs are used to ensure understanding and compliance.
Level 4 – metrics are used to track productivity, processes, and products. Project performance is predictable, and quality is consistently high.
Level 5 – the focus is on continuous process improvement. The impact of new processes and technologies can be predicted and effectively implemented when required.
- ISO = ‘International Organization for Standards’ – The ISO 9001, 9002, and 9003 standards concern quality systems that are assessed by outside auditors, and they apply to many kinds of production and manufacturing organizations, not just software. The most comprehensive are 9001, and this is the one most often used by software development organizations. It covers documentation, design, development, production, testing, installation, servicing, and other processes. ISO 9000-3 (not the same as 9003) is a guideline for applying ISO 9001 to software development organizations. The U.S. version of the ISO 9000 series standards is exactly the same as the international version and is called the ANSI/ASQ Q9000 series. The U.S. version can be purchased directly from the ASQ (American Society for Quality) or the ANSI organizations. To be ISO 9001 certified, a third-party auditor assesses an organization, and certification is typically good for about 3 years, after which a complete reassessment is required. Note that ISO 9000 certification does not necessarily indicate quality products – it indicates only that documented processes are followed.
- IEEE = ‘Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ – among other things, creates standards such as ‘IEEE Standard for Software Test Documentation’ (IEEE/ANSI Standard 829), ‘IEEE Standard of Software Unit Testing (IEEE/ANSI Standard 1008), ‘IEEE Standard for Software Quality Assurance Plans’ (IEEE/ANSI Standard 730), and others.
- ANSI = ‘American National Standards Institute’, the primary industrial standards body in the U.S.; publishes some software-related standards in conjunction with the IEEE and ASQ (American Society for Quality).