FCW@20: The software improvement game

There’s nothing like an old-fashioned board game to make you feel nostalgic about good software development principles.

Bob and Vicky Holeman developed a board game in the 1990s because they said they believed in applying good engineering principles to software development. The Holemans named their $55.95 board game the Software Process Improvement Game. Each track on the game’s Monopoly-like board represented a software process improvement step developed by software engineers at Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute.

Here’s how Federal Computer Week described the game in its March 20, 1995, issue: “It’s not as exciting as Sega, but it’s better than reading a manual.” FCW technology reporter John Monroe found the game educational. However, the game might be more exciting, he wrote, if players faced the risk of landing on squares labeled “Lousy documentation, lose points.”

We contacted Frantzie Couch, director of contracts at Advanced Systems Technology, to see if we could still purchase the board game that the company was selling in 1995.

“Talk about a blast from the past!” Couch replied in an e-mail message.

“The Software Process Improvement Game, affectionately known around here as the SPIG, is no longer available for purchase. We don’t even have any extras around. If we did, I’d be glad to send you one.

“There was an experimental electronic version, but it was never developed for commercial production as far as I know. The game was never updated to reflect evolutions in the Software Engineering Institute’s Capability Maturity Model on which it was based.

“Sorry I couldn’t be more help.  — Frantzie”

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group