In this paper we analyse 39 publications that have reported issues relating to software process improvement. Together, the 39 publications refer to 14 sites in 11 organizations. The 11 organizations include all five of the organizations that have been awarded the IEEE Computer Society Award for Process Achievement. Twelve of the 14 sites have been assessed at CMM level 3 or higher. Two main issues, and a number of more specific issues, emerge from our analysis. The two main issues are organizational stability and process expertise. We further distinguish between inter- and intra-organizational stability. Several other specific issues are identified and discussed. We direct attention at how the specific issues relate to each other, how the two main issues relate to each other, and how all these issues relate to software process improvement. We speculate that organizational stability provides a stable environment within which to perform the process and to develop expertise. In addition to the 39 publications, the paper provides cross-references to survey studies and other case studies on process improvement, and studies into process understanding. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.