The official start of the conference was marked by the plenary session led by Paul Nielsen. He offered some welcome remarks to the delegates from 26 countries–including some “honorary Europeans”–and introduced the team of speakers delivering the first keynote address.
Angel Jordan and Anita Carleton took the stage to deliver a retrospective of the past 30 years and a look ahead at process improvement.
30 Years of Process Improvement and Counting: A Retrospective
Jordan opened the presentation noting that before the SEI, there were very few software engineering practices that produced consistent results. Jordan revisited the origins of the SEI, beginning in 1985 when its strategic plan–supported by the U.S. Department of Defense–was recognized as a fundamental activity. The SEI has a long history of developing solutions to meet the needs of teams and organizations, and Jordan covered the inception, development, and evolution of a number of SEI work products. For example, the Software Capability Maturity Model was born out of a need for more precise definitions of the methods and models, the Software Capability Evaluation was the result of a need for Acquisition Officers to assess the maturity of their contractors, and the CERT Resilience Management Model came about when the SEI recognized that the best practices of some organizational challenges could best be managed with a capability maturity model.
Before he turned the microphone over to Carleton, Jordan spoke about the far-reaching, global adoption of CMMI: it has seen implementations in 74 countries on six continents. In conclusion, Jordan commented, “We can make the broad claim that the SEI has made seminal contributions to managing not only software and its development, but also related services, including resilient systems.”
The Future: How Good Are We at Predicting It?
Spam will be a thing of the past … computers of the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons … there is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home … Carleton used these past predictions to illustrate how difficult it can be to determine what’s next in the industry. However, Carleton noted, we do get some things right. There were several threats to the future of software and systems development that were correctly identified in 1984. We predicted it–so why can’t we fix it? Carleton quoted the late Watts Humphrey who offered an eloquent perspective: “While technology can change quickly, getting your people to change takes a great deal longer. That is why the people-intensive job of developing software has had essentially the same problems for 40 years.”
Carleton shared that the SEI’s vision and strategy for the future of process improvement includes efforts to innovate software for competitive advantage, advance quantitative methods for engineering software, and secure the cyber infrastructure. “Looking ahead, the SEI will continue to look at how architecture, measurement, and cyber security can work together in an integrated, interconnected way,” Carleton concluded.