hat are the hot topics in standards today? Where is the most significant progress being made? Work in standards has shifted beyond CASE tools, although there are ISO standards for these now. The current focus is on standardizing software processes, not just tools or programming interfaces. The major contribution is in the area of integrating systems engineering and software engineering processes. Have approaches to software engineering standards changed recently? In the last five to 10 years, the software engineering community has been moving away from mandated standards and toward “best practice” information aids. These provide a strategy for using standards to create conforming processes that work with various appraisal models, such as the de facto standard CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration). Through a process called gap analysis, organizations can assess their standards and lifecycle processes and determine their weaknesses. Gap analysis examines activities, tasks, and process objectives, as well as framework models, to provide an assessment. How are standards proposed and approved? A multitiered approach is in place that involves several standards organizations. The IEEE Software Engineering Standards Committee, created in 1976, is a focal point for developing new standards. SESC collaborates with corresponding ISO committees to transition IEEE SESC standards into international standards. What new standards are under development? Standards continually evolve as technology areas need them. For example, a new working group is focusing on standards for systems and software assurance, dependability, reliability, and safety. There’s also a “back-burner” project to devise standards for CASE tool interconnections. Standards are made available for review to the software community. Currently, standards such as SWEBOK are available through IEEE. A user-friendly tool helps manage the standards by hyperlinking them together as HTML pages. What educational projects are under way? A new IEEE Software Engineering book series (Roger Fujii, editor) is currently in various stages of publication. This series contains volumes on a Roadmap to Software Engineering, Software Maintenance, Software Configuration Management, Planning, Software Quality Assurance, Requirements, and Testing, among others. These books intend to amplify and elucidate the information in the standards. Also, the International Conference on Software Engineering Education and Training has an SESC-sponsored track (19–24 April 2004 in Salt Lake City). Also, a CMMI user’s group met recently to discuss the importance of practicing the de facto worldwide standard for assessment. SESC is involved in the professional-certification programs as well as in hosting and judging international design competitions. An online software engineering editorial board has just been formed to provide new resources to the community. Are there any formal studies showing that using standards actually improves productivity? There haven’t been any longitudinal studies of the effects of standards, but much anecdotal evidence suggests that organizations who use standards show a great return on investment. Some ROI data in the CMMI model shows the impacts and benefits of CMMI assessments.