Understanding how to implement software process improvement (SPI) successfully is arguably the most challenging issue facing the SPI field today. The SPI literature contains many case studies of successful companies and descriptions of their SPI programs. However, the research efforts to date are limited and inconclusive and without adequate theoretical and psychometric justification. This paper extends and integrates models from prior research by performing an empirical investigation of the key factors for success in SPI. A quantitative survey of 120 software organizations was designed to test the conceptual model and hypotheses of the study. The results indicate that success depends critically on six organizational factors, which explained more than 50 percent of the variance in the outcome variable. The main contribution of the paper is to increase the understanding of the influence of organizational issues by empirically showing that they are at least as important as technology for succeeding with SPI and, thus, to provide researchers and practitioners with important new insights regarding the critical factors of success in SPI.