An investigation into software
development process formation
in software start-ups
Department of Computing, Dundalk Institute of Technology,
Dundalk, Ireland, and
Rory V. O’Connor
School of Computing, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland
Purpose – This paper reports on the results of an investigation into how the software development
process is initially established within software product start-ups.
Design/methodology/approach – The study employs a grounded theory approach to characterize
the experiences of small software organizations in developing processes to support their software
development activity. Using the indigenous Irish software product industry as a test-bed, the authors’
examine how software development processes are established in software product start-ups and the
major factors that inﬂuence the make up of these processes.
Findings – The results show that the previous experience of the person tasked with managing the
development work is the prime inﬂuencer on the process a company initially uses. Other inﬂuencers
include the market sector in which the company is operating, the style of management used and the
size and scale of the company operations.
Originality/value – The model has particular implications for start-up software product
organisations that wish to successfully manage their product development from an early stage.
Keywords Computer software, Product development, Ireland
Paper type Research paper
For many small and start-up software companies, implementing controls and structures
to properly manage their software development activity is a major challenge.
Administering software development in this way is usually achieved through the
introduction of a software process. A software process essentially describes the way an
organisation develops its software products and supporting services, such as
documentation. Processes deﬁne what steps the development organisations should
take at each stage of production and provide assistance in making estimates, developing
plans and measuring quality. To simplify understanding and to create a generic
framework which can be adapted by organisations, software processes are represented
in an abstract form as software process models. A number of different models including,
waterfall, evolutionary and component-based developments (Sommerville, 2007), exist
as instantiations of how software development can be undertaken.
Small software companies, and in particular start-ups, are creative and ﬂexible in nature
and are reluctant to introduce process or bureaucratic measures which may hinder their
natural attributes (Sutton, 2000). In addition small and start-up companies have very
limited resources and typically wish to use these resources to support product development.
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
Journal of Enterprise Information
Vol. 21 No. 6, 2008
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited