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Institutes of Technology Ireland
Research & Innovation

Improving the Development Process for e-Commerce Software

Software Process Improvement (SPI) can be used to reduce the cost and time-to-market of software products. However, SPI initiatives in large commercial financial institutions are often restricted by the quality control mechanisms that are put in place to protect the organisation from financial loss. Therefore, any changes to the software development process must retain the required level of independent quality control. One way to ensure this is to make more effective use of the Quality Assurance (QA) team earlier in the software development process.

In 2007, a large UK retail bank wished to make improvements to its e-commerce software development process. However it lacked the necessary expertise in software process improvement.

The Software Technology Research Centre (SToRC) at Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT) has an international reputation for the quality of its research in the area of software engineering, especially software quality and software process improvement. SToRC has a long track record of working with industry, and in solving challenging technical problems for both small and large organisations.

Mr. Fergal Downey, a member of the management team within the retail bank embarked on a direct-funded research project, in partnership with SToRC. The focus of the project was to define the existing software development practices in the company and to identify potential areas for improvement. This research identified that the sooner the QA team becomes involved in the process, the quicker they can provide valuable feedback to the development team. This enables the identification and removal of defects in the software soon after they are introduced, and reduces the time needed to develop and test a product. The practice identified during this project continued after the research was concluded and was adopted by teams within the organisation, other than those involved in the original research. It has led to an improved quality and time-to-market of the e-commerce software products within the bank.

Mr. Downey used this project as a means to gain a postgraduate qualification. He completed his M.Sc. by research and graduated from DkIT in 2010. He is now employed in another start-up organisation where he has implemented many of the practices that he learnt during his partnership with SToRC.

Testimonials

“There were numerous benefits to my organisation of working with SToRC. Firstly, we were able to leverage the experience and knowledge that SToRC staff had gained on previous similar research. Secondly, we found that the initial industry based approach lacked the rigour in terms of evidence and methodology that was provided through the partnership with SToRC. Finally, the work was carried out within the context of other industrial and academic research (current and historical) thanks to the contributions of SToRC.”
Fergal Downey - Senior Development Manager, CyberSource NI

“The benefits to SToRC of working with industry in this type of collaboration are many and varied. We feel the engagement works both ways in that the industry partner benefits from our research expertise whereas we can see how theory is being applied in practice, why potentially good ideas don’t or can’t work and what the real ‘pain points’ for companies are. This feeds into our research, causing us to re-evaluate our own concepts and generates new and more interesting research questions.”
Dr. Gerry Coleman - Software Technology Research Centre, Dundalk Institute of Technology

Client: Retail Banking Sector
Institution:
Dundalk Institute of Technology
Industry: Financial Services
National Priority Area: Digital Platforms, Content and Applications

Head of Research
Dr. Tim McCormac
Dundalk Institute of Technology
Dublin Road
Dundalk, Co. Louth
Ireland
T: +353 (0)42 937 0459
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External Services Manager
Irene McCausland
Dundalk Institute of Technology
Dublin Road
Dundalk, Co. Louth
Ireland
T: +353 (0)42 937 0403
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Director of SToRC
Dr. Gerry Coleman
Dundalk Institute of Technology
Dublin Road
Dundalk, Co. Louth
Ireland
T: +353 (0)42 937 0200
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