Software engineering is one of the largest and most influential industries in modern society. It has evolved from early calculation applications used only by government agencies and university think tanks to complex applications that permeate every aspect of modern life. The banking, tele-communications, travel, medical, entertainment, and even agriculture industries rely heavilyon software to operate. Software affects even the most mundane aspects of our lives, from buying groceries to doing a load of laundry or filling our cars’ fuel tanks with gas.
Yet, in spite of its pervasive influence, software engineering is a relatively young discipline. The term ―software engineering‖ has been in popular use only since the late 1960s, following its introduction in the title ofa NATO Science Committee conference at Garmisch, Germany [Naur 69].
One frequent criticism of the software profession is the poor quality of the products it produces. This problem has been attributed to many causes, from the way software professionals are educated to the overall problems inherent within a young profession. An article in the online encyclopedia Wikipedia summed up the criticism ofsoftware development as follows:
“In traditional engineering, there is a clear consensus how things should be built, which standards should be followed, and which risks must be taken care of; if an engineer does not follow these practices and something fails, he gets sued. There is no such consensus in software engineering: Everyone promotes their own methods, claiming huge benefits inproductivity, usually not backed up by any scientific, unbiased evidence” [Wikipedia 05].
A powerful counter to this criticism is the widespread adoption of the Personal Software Process (PSP) methodology. Developed in 1993 by Watts S. Humphrey, the PSP is a disciplined and structured approach to developing software. By using the PSP concepts and methods in their work, individuals in almost any technicalfield can improve their estimating and planning skills, make commitments that they can meet, manage the quality of their work, and reduce the number of defects in their products.
The effectiveness of the PSP methodology (and its companion technology, the Team Software ProcessSM or TSPSM) in both academic and industrial settings is documented in numerous technical reports and peer-reviewed journalarticles. Since PSP relies heavily on the collection and analysis of personal data as proof of effective process implementation, the claims made in these reports and articles are supported by objective, hard-data evidence.
The concepts and methodologies of the PSP and TSP technologies have reached a level of maturity sufficient to warrant that further refinements be made by the professionalcommunity, academia, and
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certification entities. To support this effort, further educational expansion of the PSP must be accomplished by and accepted in the community. Theresearch performed by Ford and Gibbs revealed that as a profession advances, it must have ways to assess and assure the adequacy of education and training curricula and the competency of individual professionals to further the profession [Ford 96].
Professional PSP competency measures are needed to assess both the level of knowledge acquisition and the level of skill in applying that knowledge.Certification is one of the most widely used mechanisms that a profession employs to make explicit the core set of knowledge and skills that a professional is expected to master, to establish objective assessments of those core competencies, and to provide a foundation for continuing qualification of individual professionals.
At the core of the process of maturing a profession is the establishment of...