An Introduction to Automotive SPICE for Beginners

by V.K Chong published on February 12, 2020

Throughout my many years in the system and software development career, the complexity of the product has been increased drastically. Many of the automotive products have evolved from mechanical-based systems to software-based systems. Such changing trends required a totally new approach for product development. In this paper, I will be explaining Automotive SPICE (ASPICE), a process capability model which is used in the automotive industry, and its benefits of implementation.

SPICE (Software Process Improvement & Capability Determination) was identified to be useful and effective to prevent software-related defects. SPICE is an approach to process assessment, wherein the capability of processes is assessed by comparing objective evidence collected in the organization to indicators of performance and capability specified in a Process Assessment Model. The Process Assessment Model is based on an appropriate Process Reference Model, which contains the definitions of the process entities to be assessed, in combination with a specified framework for the measurement of process capability, based on a series of defined Levels of Capability.

Throughout Automotive SPICE is a process maturity framework to assess the capability and maturity of organizational processes to develop software respectively embedded systems in the automotive industry. This framework is often used by automotive OEMs and suppliers in order to assess the capability and maturity of their development processes for both software and embedded systems. The ASPICE process model is developed with reference to two references, the “Process Reference” and the “Process Assessment”. The “Process Reference”, also called Process Reference Model (PRM) is the group of selected processes that are relevant and essential processes for the automotive industry. There are 32 processes in the ASPICE process model. The “Process Assessment”, also called Process Assessment Model (PAM) describes the methodology used in evaluating the capability level of the processes. There are 6 capability levels defined for the ASPICE process model with level 0 as the lower capability level and 5 as the highest level. The “Process Assessment” part of the model describes how to evaluate the capability of processes within the organization.

The Process Assessment Model (PAM) describes all the attributes needed by the processes to achieve a specific capability level. Capability levels measure the extent of how far a process is performed on a given scale. Automotive SPICE assessments conform to ISO/IEC 33020 assessment requirements. The assessments evaluate how an organization is capable to run mature processes on six levels. The framework defines specific capability indicators, for each level, to measure the extent of achievement on a four-value rating scale.