The impact of Software Process Maturity on Software Project Performance: The Contingent Role of Software Development Risk

Dany Di Tullio, Bouchaib Bahli


Despite growing efforts to improve software development processes, recurring concerns about software project performance remain largely present. The rate of software development project failure rate has been routinely documented in information systems (IS) research (Wallace, 2004; El-Masry and Rivard, 2010). The management of software development projects is often marked by inadequate planning, a poor grasp of the overall development process, and no clear management framework, even as the focus in software development shifts from a technology perspective to a more process-centric view (Slaughter, 2006). To address such concerns few CMM-based studies have examined the benefits and direct impact of software process maturity on software project performance but with mixed results. The present paper attempts to systematically examine the contingent role of software development risk on the impact of software process maturity level on software project performance. Guided by risk-based perspective in Software Engineering and CMM-based framework, an exploratory model was developed and tested. The premise of this paper is that software development risk plays a contingent role in the relationship between software process maturity and software project performance. Drawing on a sample of 107 organizations that have undergone official CMM appraisals, the results of partial least squares analysis of the data reveal initial evidence that (1) a positive effect of software process maturity level on software project performance while underscoring the negative effect of software development risk on software project performance, and (2) more importantly, the findings show that software development risk plays a contingent role software process maturity level on software project performance. For researchers, the integration of software development risk can provide a much needed linkage in the three fundamental constructs of CMM. From a managerial perspective, in order to foster a better software project performance, IS project leaders and managers should strongly emphasize devising effective software development risk assessment since a variation of this construct’s level may strengthen or weaken the relationship between software development process maturity and software project performance. 


Software process maturity; software development risk; software project performance

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