ISO/IEC 29110 Life Cycle Profiles for Very Small Entities (VSEs)

ISO LogoIndustry recognizes Very Small Entities (a Very Small Entity is an enterprise, organization, department or project having up to 25 people) for their contribution of valuable products and services. As software quality increasingly becomes a subject of concern, and as process approaches are maturing and earning the confidence of companies, the use of ISO/IEC JTC1/SC7 international standards is spreading in organizations of all sizes. However, these standards were not written for VSEs and are consequently difficult to apply in such settings. A Working Group, Working Group 24,  has been established to address these difficulties by developing profiles and providing guidance for compliance with ISO software engineering standards. A survey was conducted among very small entities on their utilization of standards, as well as to collect data to identify problems and potential solutions to help very small enterprises apply them.

The guides are based on subsets of appropriate standards elements, referred to as VSE Profiles. The purpose of a VSE profile is to define a subset of ISO/IEC standards relevant to the VSE context, for example, processes and outcomes of ISO/IEC 12207 and products of ISO/IEC 15289. The ISO/IEC 29110 Set of Documents, targeted by audience, has been developed to improve product and/or service quality, and process performance. When a new profile is needed, ISO/IEC 29110 Parts 4 and 5 can be developed without impacting existing documents.

How can ISO/IEC 29110 Help Irish Companies?

Small Irish software companies have no or very limited ways of being recognized as enterprises that produce quality software systems in their domain. WG 24 will develop several products to give small enterprises a better opportunity to develop high-quality products on time and to make a profit in the process. It will include an overview, framework, profile and taxonomy, leading to a standard that will enable the development of guides for engineering, management and assessment. It will also be the first ISO/IEC standard (to our knowledge) that is being designed to be totally web-accessible, including training tools and guidelines.

As part of its work WG24 conducted a survey (345 companies from 20 countries) to find out more about the small enterprise’s needs. It is interesting to note that in terms of certification and recognition, only 18% of very small enterprises (VSEs) are certified and over 74% indicated that it was important to be either recognized or certified. Of that group, ISO certification was requested by 40%; market recognition requested by 28% and only 4% were interested in a national certification.

The Irish software industry needs to educate its managers in a software process improvement (SPI) and quality agenda. Given the large number of VSEs operating in the Irish software sector and the need for global competitiveness with a quality orientation, the potential role of ISO/IEC 29110 for the Irish software industry is immense. It is therefore vital that Ireland has a role in shaping this new standard and accordingly we must maintain our current status as a key player in the development of this standard. Furthermore, Ireland must opt to be an early adopter / test-bed for the standard, thus allowing Ireland an even greater voice in the development of the standard.

How can I get involved?

You can get involved now by emailing or calling me. I am very interested in hearing from companies who may be interested in experimenting with ISO/IEC 29110 in the form a a pilot (or test) project, within your company.

The pilot project website is here

Network of Centers to support VSEs

The objectives of the Network are: (1) To accelerate deployment of Standard and Guides for VSEs and (2) To accelerate the development and application of Guides (e.g. Part 5) and Deployment Packages (e.g. through pilot projects). The participants to the Network are:

Deployment Packages

A deployment package is a set of artifacts developed to facilitate the implementation of a set of practices, of the selected framework, in a VSE. But, a deployment package is not a process reference model. The elements of a typical deployment package are: process description (e.g. activities, inputs, outputs, and roles), guide, template, checklist, example, presentation material, reference and mapping to standards and models, and a list of tools. Packages are designed such that a VSE can implement its content, without having to implement the complete framework at the same time.

A Deployment Package is furnished on an “as-is” basis. The author(s) make(s) no warranties of any kind, either expressed or implied, as to any matter including, but not limited to, warranty of fitness for purpose or merchantability, exclusivity, or results obtained from use of the material.

The processes described in a Deployment Package are not intended to preclude or discourage the use of additional processes that Very Small Entities may find useful.

The content of a Deployment Package is entirely informative.

Deployment Packages have been produced by the authors listed below beyond their official participation to ISO JTC1/SC7/WG24.

A complete set of Deployment Packages is available here

My Role in ISO

Rory is an active member of the international standards community. He is a member of ISO/IEC JTC1/SC7/ Working Group 24 on Lifecycle Profiles for VSE (Very Small Enterprises) and is editor of the ISO/IEC 29110-2 standard.

In 2009 Rory was appointed by NSAI (National Standards Authority of Ireland) as Ireland's Head of Delegation to the International Organization for Standardization ISO/IEC JTC1/SC7 (which manages Software & Systems Engineering standards). He also serves as a member of NSAI’s Information and Communications Technology Standards Consultative Committee (ICTSCC), an advisory group on matters related to the introduction of ICT standards.

What is ISO SC7

ISO/IEC JTC1/SC7 The mandate of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Sub-Committee 7 (SC7) is to develop, maintain, promote and facilitate IT standards required by global markets to meet business and user requirements concerning Software and Systems Engineering. There are currently over 16 separate Working Groups (WG’s) specializing in areas such as: Software Process Assessment (WG10), Software Life Cycles for Very Small Enterprises (WG24) and Software Testing (WG26). 


At Hyderabad (India) in May 2009, it was proposed to establish an informal interest group about education. Its main objective is to develop a set of courses for software undergraduate and graduate students such that students learn about the ISO standards for Very Small Entities (VSEs) before they graduate.

The course modules developed are, for academia, similar to the development packages for VSEs. In this case, the objective is to facilitate the teaching of the new standards by academia by providing them with readily usable course plans, teaching material such as presentation material, exercises, case studies and reading material.

A complete set of materials is available here


Myself and other members of ISO/IEC JCT1/SC7 WG24 regularly publish papers and make industry and academic presentations about this exciting new standard.

A complete list of publications is available here