Gap analysis in context of software process improvement is an activity that highlights the differences between the practices adopted by an organization and the standard guidelines introduced by the reference models, for example CMMI. It is important to reiterate that it is not mandatory to perform the comparison with the CMMI or any widely accepted standard. Rather, any set of practices that has proven its effectiveness can be considered by the organizations for the comparisons. The outcome of the gap analysis activity is the limitations or weaknesses in the organizational practices and this activity actually serves as the catalyst for process improvement because now the organizations know where they lack and can head toward improvement.
Gap Analysis Example
The gap analysis is explained with the help of an example of project planning which is
one of the important key process areas of the CMMI. Suppose the organizational
practices related to the project planning in an organization are not
standardized or executed in an ad hoc manner. In other words, the project manager
or any other role responsible for project planning does not prepare an appropriate
plan for completing the project development activities. On the other hand, the
CMMI requires that the project planning should be done explicitly by some
designated role. Hence, this is the gap between the guidelines prescribed by
the standard and the actual practice of the organization. Consequently, the organization
needs to bridge this gap by improving the process, for example by prescribing a
procedure to nominate a team member to perform the planning activities.
Similarly, there is no standard way of performing the planning activities and only project manager knows at what time a certain activity is to be executed. On the other hand, the guideline by the CMMI says that a standard template should be followed in order to document the project activities. Again, there exists a gap between the procedure that the organization follows and the recommended actions for improvement by the CMMI.