The IEEE CS/SEI Watts S. Humphrey Software Quality Award is named for Watts S. Humphrey, known as the “Father of Software Quality.” Humphrey, following a long career with IBM, served at the SEI from 1986 until his death in 2010. He dedicated the majority of his career to addressing problems in software development including software quality, programmer motivation and commitment, team process discipline, and how organizations can best support these. During Humphrey’s tenure at the SEI, characteristics of best practices at the individual, team, and organizational levels were identified that laid the groundwork for the Personal Software Process, the Team Software Process, the Capability Maturity Model (CMM) for Software and, eventually, CMM Integration (CMMI). In 2005, Humphrey received the National Medal of Technology for his work in software engineering.
“We have found by applying to software the principles that made the industrial revolution possible, software engineering teams can achieve improvements in quality, predictability, and productivity that exceed our wildest dreams.” –Watts S. Humphrey
Nominations are now open for the 2024 IEEE Computer Society / Software Engineering Institute Watts S. Humphrey Software Quality Award. Since 1994, the SEI and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Computer Society have cosponsored the award, which recognizes outstanding achievements in improving an organization’s ability to create and evolve high-quality software-dependent systems.
The Humphrey Award nominee’s quality improvement must, to an exceptional degree, be significant, measured, sustained, and shared.
To be significant, the work must have a demonstrated impact on the target organizations’ software engineering results (e.g., productivity increases, defect density for software reaching integration and test decreases, or rework percentage decreases, and by how much). It should also consider, as pertinent, the impact on the target organizations’ management, workforce, and system development and maintenance processes (e.g., cycle time to address emergency tickets decreases and percentage of tickets correctly fixed on first try increases, and by how much).
To be measured, the work must include the collection of data used to guide the work and clearly demonstrate its impact. Concrete software engineering quality improvement goals, factors, and metrics must be defined. The work must involve assessing the cause-and-effect relationship between changes (e.g., to the organization’s processes, training, and tools) and their impact (to reduce defect density, reduce cycle time, or increase productivity).
To be sustained, the work must lead to a continuing impact on the target organizations’ software engineering activities. In particular, the work should result in well-documented artifacts (e.g., in the form of coaching, training, tools, measures, and obtaining feedback on changes) that ensure the improvements are institutionalized and provide long lasting effects.
To be shared, the insights, experiences, and proven practices stemming from the work must have been made available beyond the target organizations. This could, for example, be throughout software engineering communities in which the nominee and target organizations participate. It could, additionally or alternatively, be to other parts of larger organizations within which the target organizations are subunits.
Recognition by the IEEE Computer Society and the SEI
The award will be announced and recognized by both the IEEE Computer Society and the SEI, and recipients will receive an engraved, commemorative plaque. Recipients will also be required to produce an SEI technical report describing their accomplishments, which will be published on the SEI’s website.
The award may be presented to an individual or a group.
Recipients are usually employees of the target organization. Recipients may also work for an organization that provided software engineering quality improvement benefits to the target organization. For example, the recipient organization may be an organization that provides services related to software engineering quality improvement to the target organization, or it may be an association that supports activities related to software engineering quality improvement that benefit one or more target organizations. The target organization may be for-profit, not-for-profit, or non-profit; may be an industrial, academic, or government organization or foundation; and need not be based in the United States.
The achievements being recognized can be the result of any type of quality improvement activity.
In particular, they need not be based on a specific framework, model, or body of software engineering principles, practices, techniques, or methods.
The award nomination may be submitted by a group, or nominees may nominate themselves.
Award nominations must be seconded by a senior executive of the organization in which the nominated individual or group works and must be supported by a 12-page nomination package.
2024 IEEE Computer Society /
Software Engineering Institute Watts S. Humphrey
Software Quality Award Selection Subcommittee Members
Julia Mullaney, Exceptional Difference LLC
Barry Dwolatzky, Joburg Centre for Software Engineering
Brian Gallagher, BG Solutions and Services, LLC
Gerd Hoefner, Siemens Healthcare Pvt. Ltd.
Fernando Jaimes Pastrana, Tecnológico de Monterrey
Patrick Kirwan, Robert Bosch GmbHz
Leon Osterweil, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Stephen Shook, Ishpi Information Technologies, Inc.
Shurei Tamura, Toshiba Corporation
M. Lynn Penn, Performance and Methods Consulting, LLC
Humphrey Award Coordinator:
Michele Falce, Software Engineering Institute
The Humphrey Award is given to individuals or groups to recognize the excellence of their work.
To nominate an individual or group, you must submit nomination material specifying the nominee, describe the nominee’s software engineering quality improvement work, and make a case for why the nominee’s work has led to those improvements. The nomination material must be accompanied by at least one endorsement letter, signed by a senior executive from the nominee’s organization with the appropriate responsibility and authority to certify agreement to the award conditions. Nominations must be submitted to the Humphrey Award Coordinator as outlined in the Award Schedule.
The Humphrey Award may be presented to nominees that meet the following requirements:
The award may be presented to an individual or a group. Recipients are most often employees of the target organization. The recipient may also work for an organization that provided software engineering quality improvement services to the target organization. For example, the recipient’s organization may be an organization that provides training or quality measurement consulting to the target organization, or it might be an association that supports activities related to software engineering quality improvement that benefit one or more target organizations.
Because software engineering quality improvement activities are normally group activities, a nominee is usually a team of professionals. However, to recognize work within small organizations or within organizations that do not formally define a software engineering quality improvement-related team, a nominee may be an individual or a small, informal group or team.
The target organization may be for-profit, not-for-profit, or non-profit; may be an industrial, academic, or government organization or foundation; and need not be based in the United States.
A nomination must be endorsed by a senior executive from the nominee’s organization. If the target organizations are different from the nominee’s organization, then the nomination must also be endorsed by a senior executive from each of the target organizations. In addition to endorsing the nomination, these senior executives must agree to the following:
None of the data and information in the nomination material is proprietary or confidential.
On request, the nominee will provide additional detailed data and information regarding the software engineering quality improvement-related work. If any of the additional data and information is proprietary or confidential, it will be clearly marked as such.
If selected as an award recipient, the nominee will participate in a webinar presentation to be hosted by the SEI and will receive a commemorative plaque at the IEEE Computer Society award ceremony.
All data and information that the Humphrey Award Selection Subcommittee uses as the basis for an award will be published in the SEI technical report, perhaps in some modified form mutually acceptable to the Chair of the Selection Subcommittee and the award recipient.
If an on-site visit is required (the Selection Subcommittee will primarily use videoconferencing technology), all travel expenses will be reimbursed by the nominee’s and/or the target organizations, with international travel reimbursed for one Selection Subcommittee member at business-class airfare rates.
Subcommittee members will not be required to return the nomination material, any non-proprietary or non-confidential material submitted in response to requests for additional information, or any non-proprietary or non-confidential material distributed during a site visit.
The nomination material must contain an overview that consists of no more than two pages identifying the nominee, briefly describing the nominee’s software engineering quality improvement-related work, and concretely demonstrating the work’s impact and excellence.
This overview must identify the following:
the nominee, the target organizations, and the nominee’s relationship to the target organizations
one to three individuals who will represent the nominee organization in any award-related activity
a point of contact for interactions between the Award Committee and both the nominating and nominee organizations
In addition, and most importantly for demonstrating award-winning work, the overview must, with respect to the target organizations, do the following:
define the goals for the nominee’s software engineering quality improvement work, describing the work briefly and succinctly
summarize evidence that the work met the goals and had a positive effect on the target organization
summarize the work’s direct impact and significance (e.g., in terms of productivity and quality improvements)
summarize the work’s indirect impact and significance to the software engineering process improvement community at large
The overview must be supplemented by no more than 10 additional pages of supporting data (e.g., graphs, figures, tables, or other explanatory material), and be written in coherent, readable English. These additional pages should provide more details of how the nominee satisfies the evaluation criteria. The evaluation questions used by the Selection Subcommittee may be used as a guide for the structure and content of this supplementary material.
The Award Schedule is designed to provide recognition of the recipient’s accomplishments and to ensure dissemination of the recipient’s experiences and lessons learned throughout the relevant researcher and practitioner communities.
A recipient is mentored by a subcommittee member to assure the creation of a high-quality SEI technical report and effective, high-quality webinar presentations, which will be delivered to the researcher and practitioner communities.
September 2023 Selection Subcommittee Review Begins
The Humphrey Award Selection Subcommittee Coordinator provides a summary of all nominations to the Chair of the Selection Subcommittee, who reviews the nominations for compliance with the award’s administrative requirements (e.g., the scope and length of the nomination material and delivery of the required statements regarding the award conditions).
If deficiencies are minor, the nominator is given the opportunity to correct them within one week. If there are major deficiencies, the Chair of the Selection Subcommittee explains these to the nominator and invites a future resubmission.
November 2023 Selection Subcommittee Review Ends
The Humphrey Award Selection Subcommittee makes award recommendations. In the case of negative decisions, the Chair of the Selection Subcommittee provides an explanation, a detailed list of deficiencies, and advice regarding a resubmission in the future. In the case of positive decisions, the Chair of the Selection Subcommittee submits an award recommendation to the Chair of the IEEE Computer Society Award Committee and the Director of the SEI Software Solutions Division for concurrence.
January 2024 Award(s) Announced
After review by appropriate parties in the SEI and IEEE Computer Society, the award winners are determined. The Chair of the Humphrey Award Selection Subcommittee notifies all nominators and nominees of the subcommittee’s decision. A public announcement of the award recipient is made by the SEI and IEEE Computer Society.
Spring 2024 Award Recipient Presentation Scheduled
Recipient(s) will be invited to make a webinar presentation at a venue selected hosted by the SEI and IEEE Computer Society. Recipient(s) must be available to receive the commemorative plaque at the IEEE Computer Society award ceremony when the award is announced.
January–June 2024 Award Recipient Report
The Humphrey Award Selection Subcommittee Coordinator and the award recipient work together to assure timely production of an effective, high-quality SEI technical publication.
Nominations are evaluated by an Award Committee consisting of senior, knowledgeable, and experienced software engineering process improvement professionals. The restricted length of the nomination package generally does not allow a fully adequate description of the nominee’s activities and results, but it should provide enough information for the Award Committee to determine that the criteria are likely to be satisfied. Nominees that pass this initial screening review are then engaged in focused interactions with the Award Committee to elicit more detail about the nominee’s achievements. A positive decision requires that the nominee satisfy the award criteria to an exceptional degree. In the case of a negative decision, the Chair of the Award Committee provides an explanation, a detailed list of deficiencies, and advice regarding a resubmission in the future.
For each nomination, the following steps are completed:
1. The Humphrey Award Selection Subcommittee evaluates the degree to which the nominee’s work satisfies the award criteria for significant, measured, sustained, and shared improvement.
To evaluate whether the work is significant, the subcommittee considers as factors not only the breadth and depth of the work’s deployment throughout the target organizations (e.g., the number of projects that have benefited) but also the certainty of the connection between the software engineering process quality improvement work and achievement of the target organizations’ performance goals (e.g., the strength of the link between the work and the improvements in quality and productivity and quality). If a heterogeneous set of organizations (or projects) have different business goals (or different improvement starting points), it may not be sensible to aggregate deployment or impact data across organizations. In this case, the nominator should select a small set of individual organizations (possibly three to five) and report specifically the work for these.
To evaluate whether the work is measured, the subcommittee considers factors such as the breadth to which the data demonstrate the improvement (e.g., the measurement of customer satisfaction factors as well as workforce capability-related factors), the depth of the data regarding the improvement (e.g., the consideration of defect containment as well as defect incidence data), and the use of well-defined measures to demonstrate the improvement (e.g., the definition of a concrete measure relating planned vs. actual project effort).
To evaluate whether the work is sustained, the subcommittee considers factors such as the work’s level of documentation (i.e., whether the results of the work are described in informal memoranda, internal reports, or organizational standards), the likelihood that the results achieved to date are permanent (e.g., as indicated by the support of senior executives), and the likelihood that there will be additional improvements in the future (e.g., as indicated by establishing procedures for collecting, considering, and implementing process improvement suggestions).
To evaluate whether the work is shared, the subcommittee considers factors such as the degree to which the work has directly affected other organizations (e.g., the number of other organizations using methods influenced by the nominee’s work) and the extent to which the nominee’s work has impacted (or will impact) the nominee’s local and global software engineering process improvement communities (e.g., in terms of presentations in professional society meetings)
2. The Selection Subcommittee decides whether the nominee’s work satisfies all of the criteria to at least a minimal degree. If this is not the case, a detailed list of deficiencies is sent to the nominator and nominee accompanied by advice regarding a resubmission in the future. If the work at least minimally satisfies all of the criteria, then a detailed list of questions and issues is sent to the nominee.
3. The Selection Subcommittee interacts with the nominee to gather information addressing the questions and issues. If the Selection Subcommittee feels it is necessary (and, recently, this has been the exception rather than the norm), they may conduct an on-site visit to interact with the nominee and personnel from the target organizations.
4. The Selection Subcommittee requirements are consistent with IEEE CS award standards:
Nominations should comply with IEEE Policies and restrictions on awards. Incidents of misconduct including, but not limited to, violations of IEEE’s publication policies, will be strongly considered by the awards committee and may be grounds for denial of an award or leadership position.
Voting shall be conducted in accordance with Robert’s Rules of Order. The Subcommittee Chair shall have no vote except if the vote is by secret ballot or unless the Chair’s vote can change the outcome of the vote.
Conflict of Interest concerns shall be disclosed and addressed in accordance with IEEE Policies 9.9 A, B,. and C. Any real and perceived conflict of interest (COI) shall be avoided. Anyone with a COI shall recuse themselves from nominating, endorsing, discussing, and evaluating.
Individuals serving on any board or committee involved at any stage of the recipient selection or approval process for an award shall be ineligible to receive, or act as a nominator or reference for that award.
Recipient Support Process
The following steps occur after a proposal is approved by the IEEE Computer Society and the SEI:
The Humphrey Award Selection Subcommittee consults with the recipient to confirm recipient’s availability to present at a webinar hosted by the SEI.
The Selection Subcommittee identifies one of their members to mentor the recipient in preparing a high quality webinar presentation and a high quality SEI technical report regarding the recipient’s “improvement journey” and the resulting insights, experiences, and proven practices.
The IEEE Computer Society and SEI jointly announce the recipient(s) of the current year’s award. The award is bestowed at the IEEE Computer Society award ceremony.
The Chair of the Selection Subcommittee facilitates publication of the SEI technical report to coincide with the webinar presentation and makes arrangement for delivery of an honorarium upon completion of the report.
Humphrey Award Recipients
Humphrey Award recipients are required to produce an SEI technical report that describes their accomplishments, their “improvement journey,” and the resulting insights, experiences, and proven practices. Click on the following links to read about the recipients and their written reports: