Enhancing product quality might be a main goal of a software process improvement initiative (SPI). Quality is, however, a complex concept, and experts recommend identifying relevant product quality characteristics to satisfy users/customers' needs. There is thus a need to understand how SPI initiatives contribute to the improvement of software product quality characteristics. This paper aims to provide an overview of an up-to-date state-of-the-art regarding initiatives that focus on promoting product quality improvement by applying SPI approaches. This goal was achieved by conducting a systematic mapping study, as a result of which we identified 74 primary papers including both theoretical (75.7%) and empirical (24.3%) papers. The main product quality characteristics addressed are security, usability and reliability. Security-related process models, on the other hand, are those most cited (53%). The empirical papers suggest that traditional process reference models, such as CMM, CMMI or ISO 9001, moderately increase product quality characteristics, these principally being maintainability and reliability. However, there is a need for more empirical research to evaluate the impact of SPI initiatives on software product quality by considering contextual factors. SPI initiatives should be more driven by performance goals related to product quality characteristics.
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- Software process improvement
- Software product quality
- Systematic mapping study