Fiat Group Automobiles Policy for Software Quality Improvement 2010-01-2329
Automotive systems are obviously becoming more and more complex. In fact, a typical vehicle is built using various communication networks, many electronic units and a never ending amount of software! The main problem automakers face now is related to the integration of different distributed functionalities, and often these functionalities are based on software. For these reasons it is very important to have an approach at “system” level in order to assure that the complete vehicle conforms to requirements and the statement of needs. It is also important that the testing phases assure a complete coverage of all requirements, in order to verify all system aspects.
In this context, the software, in general, plays an important role during all phases of system development: from requirement analysis, system architecture definition, system implementation and testing phases. The software is generally acquired by external suppliers and is already programmed in the electronic devices. Also in the case of internal software development, the supplier's role is very important in order to integrate all parts of software.
For these motivations, it is necessary to assure the quality of software acquired in order to manage the integration of the complete system. A possible approach used by OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) to address this issue is to check the capability of the suppliers' software process. FIAT Group Automobiles (FGA), since the year 2001, has been taking proactive actions to address the situation. The basic strategy has been to set up criteria for qualifying software suppliers based on measuring the capability of their software processes.
In this article the policy defined by FGA to assess the capability of supplier's software processes is described in detail. The assessments made on the software process have allowed FGA to select suppliers on the basis of some objective and quantitative evidence of their level of quality. In addition, this initiative has been giving FGA a deeper knowledge of the way its suppliers produce, verify and maintain software. This is a fundamental step to building up the capability of monitoring, driving and improving the software projects in a collaborative effort with the suppliers.
The FGA policy is based on ISO 15504 (SPICE). In particular, FGA is using Automotive SPICE standard that has been developed by consensus of the European OEM. This article describes the assessment scope (what FGA evaluates), the assessment procedure (when the assessments are performed) and the relationship with project management activities used by FGA to evaluate supplier software development processes.