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April 2002
Volume 9 • Number 2


Development of a Generic Quality Function Deployment Matrix
by Ita Richardson, Eamonn Murphy, and Kevin Ryan, University of Limerick, Ireland

The concept behind the research presented in this article is that a generic software process improvement model, based on quality function deployment (QFD), can be used to help companies improve their software process in an affordable manner while also keeping business goals in focus. The ultimate aim was to develop a model that would be useful in practice for small software development companies. In the course of this project, the researchers developed, verified, and validated part of such a model, the software process matrix (SPM), which is based on the QFD house of quality. The SPM is generic for all companies using it. The processes and practices in the matrix are based on existing software process improvement models. To verify the relationships in the matrix the researchers used hypothesis tests taking expert opinion into account, carried out over three iterations of the matrix. The SPM has been validated using action research with control groups in a longitudinal study.

Key words: generic QFD model, hypothesis testing, practices, processes, quality function deployment, relationships, software process improvement, software process matrix (SPM)


Since the late 1980s, software process improvement (SPI) has been gaining popularity as an approach to improving software quality. Humphrey (1989) defines a software process as “the set of tools, methods, and practices we use to produce a software product.” Paulk et al. (1993) expand this definition to “a set of activities, methods, practices, and transformations that people use to develop and maintain software and the associated products.” Organizations assess their software process to establish how mature that process is, with a view to improving that process and ultimately improving the quality of their product. Therefore, this assessment should result in an action plan that companies can use.

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