The Impact of Process Choice in High Maturity Environments: An Empirical Analysis

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Executive Summary

The authors present the results of a three year field study of the software development process choices made by project teams at two leading offshore vendors. In particular, they focus on the performance implications of project teams that chose to augment structured, plan-driven processes to implement the CMM level-5 Key Process Areas (KPAs) with agile methods. The authors' analysis of 112 software projects reveals that the decision to augment the firm-recommended, plan-driven approach with improvised, agile methods was significantly affected by the extent of client knowledge and involvement, the newness of technology, and the project size. Furthermore, this decision had a significant and mostly positive impact on project performance indicators such as reuse, rework, defect density, and productivity.

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