History leading to an ISO/IEC JTC1/SC7 Working Group for VSEs

The mandate of ISO/IEC JTC1/SC7 is the standardization of processes, methods and supporting technologies for the engineering and management of software and systems throughout their life cycles. In this section, a brief history of the events leading to the creation of a new ISO/IEC JTC1/SC7 Working Group (WG), WG24 is presented [1].

At the 2004 SC7 meeting, Canada raised the issue of small enterprises requiring standards adapted to their size and maturity level. The current software engineering standards target (or are perceived as targeting) large organizations. A meeting of interested parties was organized and a consensus was reached on general objectives for a future working group :

  • To make the current software engineering standards more accessible to VSEs ;
  • To provide documentation requiring minimal tailoring and adaptation effort ;
  • To provide harmonized documentation integrating available standards :
    • Process standards
    • Work products and deliverables
    • Assessment and quality
    • Modeling and tools
  • To align profiles, if desirable, with the notions of maturity levels presented in ISO/IEC 15504.

In March 2005, the Thailand Industrial Standards Institute (TISI) invited a Special Working Group (SWG) to advance the work items defined at the Brisbane meeting. A key topic of discussion was to clearly define the size of VSE that the SWG would target, consensus being reached on IT services, organizations and projects with 1 to 25 employees. The major output of this one-week meeting was a draft of the New Work Item (NWI) to be tabled at the next SC7 meeting.

In May 2005, a resolution was approved to distribute for ballot the NWI Proposal for the development of Software Life Cycle Profiles and Guidelines for use in Very Small Enterprises. Twelve countries voted in favor of the NWI Proposal.

As a result of this vote, the Project was approved and the new working group, WG24, was established :

  • Mr. Tanin Uthayanaka (Thailand) was appointed Convener.
  • Mr. Claude Y. Laporte (IEEE Computer Society) was appointed Project Editor.
  • Mr. Jean Bérubé (Canada) was appointed Secretary.

The Thailand Industrial Standards Institute (TISI) sent out a second invitation to participate in the SWG, to be held in September 2005 in Bangkok. The main objective of the meeting was to prepare material that would be presented to WG 24 in order to facilitate the start-up of the working group that was scheduled for October in Italy.

In October 2005, Italy hosted ISO/IEC JTC1 SC7 Interim Meeting. Discussion on the material presented in order to start building consensus leading to the updating of some documents developed in Bangkok and the validation of the project baseline. The New Work Item was updated in order to take into account relevant comments received during balloting, and the requirements were validated by WG members. In addition, some VSE Business Models were identified, as was as a strategy for creating profiles. Finally, WG24 decided to conduct a survey to collect relevant information from VSEs around the world.

WG24 met in Thailand, during the SC7 meeting in May 2006, with two new countries, India and Mexico, sending delegates. The main outputs of the meeting were the following :

  1. Analysis of the survey responses :
    • Over 392 responses were collected from 29 countries. An interesting finding of the survey is the difference in the percentage of certified companies with regard to company size : less than 18% of VSEs are certified, while 53% of larger companies (more than 25 employees) claim to be certified. Furthermore, among the 18% not certified, 75% do not use standards.
    • Over 67% indicated that it was important to be either recognized or certified (e.g. ISO, market) ;
    • WG24 decided to prioritize the development of profiles and guides for organizations with 25 people or less. These profiles and guides should also be usable for enterprises, projects and departments of up to 25 people ;
  2. Evaluation of documents tabled by national delegations ;
  3. Selection of the Mexican Moprosoft Standard as an input document for the development of standards and guides.
    Moprosoft uses ISO/IEC 12207 as a general framework. It borrows practices from ISO9001, the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) developed by the Software Engineering Institute, the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) and the Software Engineering Body of Knowledge SWEBOK.
  4. Development of standards and guides.


[1] Laporte, C.Y., Alexandre, S., O’Connor, R., A Software Engineering Lifecycle Standard for Very Small Enterprises, in R.V. O’Connor et al. (Eds.) : EuroSPI 2008, CCIS 16, pp. 129–141.