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Topic for December:
Date: December 13, 2005
Topic: The Economics of Software Process Improvement
Speaker: Capers Jones


Successful process improvement is of necessity a multi-year activity. It is not inexpensive, and costs of more than $15,000 per capita have been observed in large software organizations. However when done well, process improvements yield a positive Return on Investment by means of improvements in quality, schedules, costs, and customer satisfaction at the same time. This talk discusses the specific costs and schedules of undertaking a process improvement program, and the specific kinds of benefits observed. The talk is based on empirical observations within companies that have undergone process improvement programs.

About the Speaker

Capers Jones is currently the chairman of Capers Jones & Associates LLC. He is also the founder and former chairman of Software Productivity Research LLC (SPR). He holds the title of Chief Scientist Emeritus at SPR.

Capers' has been in software engineering and management since 1965. His background includes 12 years of technical and management work at IBM in San Jose, California where we won an award for his work in improving software quality. He was also Assistant Director of Programming at the ITT Programming Technology Center in Stratford, Connecticut.

Throughout his career Capers has focused on the need for accurate measurement of software productivity and quality as a precursor for improving software processes. Accurate measurements are also critical for accurate planning and estimation. For his contributions to software measurement technology, he was awarded a lifetime membership in the International Function Point Users Group (IFPUG).

In 1973 Capers designed IBM's first software cost estimation tool. He also designed software cost estimation tools at ITT. In 1984 he founded Software Productivity Research. SPR is one of the pioneering companies in both software cost estimation and also software assessments and benchmarking. SPR's commercial estimation tools include SPQR/20© in 1985, Checkpoint™ in 1990, and KnowledgePlan© in 1995 all of which were designed by Capers Jones.

Capers is a well-known author and international public speaker. Some of his books have been translated into five languages. Among his book titles are Patterns of Software Systems Failure and Success (Prentice Hall 1994), Applied Software Measurement (McGraw Hill 1996), Software Quality: Analysis and Guidelines for Success (International Thomson 1997), Software Cost Estimation (McGraw Hill 1998), and Software Assessments, Benchmarks, and Best Practices (Addison Wesley Longman 2000).

Capers and his colleagues have collected historical data from more than 600 corporations and more than 30 government organizations. The total volume of projects studied now exceeds 12,000. This historical data is a key resource for judging the effectiveness of software process improvement methods such as the Software Engineering Institute's capability maturity model (CMM), the Six-Sigma quality approach, Agile development, the Object-Oriented paradigm, the ISO 9000 standards, Department of Defense standards, and many others.

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