Effects of process maturity on quality, cycle time, and effort in software product development

Donald E. Harter, Mayuram S. Krishnan, Sandra A. Slaughter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

358 Scopus citations


The information technology (IT) industry is characterized by rapid innovation and intense competition. To survive, IT firms must develop high quality software products on time and at low cost. A key issue is whether high levels of quality can be achieved without adversely impacting cycle time and effort. Conventional beliefs hold that processes to improve software quality can be implemented only at the expense of longer cycle times and greater development effort. However, an alternate view is that quality improvement, faster cycle time, and effort reduction can be simultaneously attained by reducing defects and rework. In this study, we empirically investigate the relationship between process maturity, quality, cycle time, and effort for the development of 30 software products by a major IT firm. We find that higher levels of process maturity as assessed by the Software Engineering Institute's Capability Maturity ModelTM are associated with higher product quality, but also with increases in development effort. However, our findings indicate that the reductions in cycle time and effort due to improved quality outweigh the increases from achieving higher levels of process maturity. Thus, the net effect of process maturity is reduced cycle time and development effort.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)451-466
Number of pages16
JournalManagement Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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