Software process improvement frameworks for software organizations enable to identify opportunities for improving the processes as well as establishing road maps for improvement. However, software process improvement practice showed that to achieve a sustained, leveraged state, software organizations need to focus on the workforce as much as the process. Software process improvement frameworks address the people dimension indirectly through processes. To complement process assessment models/methods, there is a need of mechanisms that address the problem of "how to assess, identify and prioritize detailed skill and knowledge improvement needs in relation to roles and processes of software organizations". In this study, we developed a Software Workforce Assessment Model (SWAM) for emergent software organizations to perform role based workforce skill assessment aligned with software processes by coupling SW-CMM and SWEBOK models. SWAM is developed in accordance with the widely accepted assessment and evaluation theory principles. It is composed of an assessment baseline for software roles, criteria and scales for assessment. A SWAM based assessment process uses specific techniques such as Euclidian distance and dendogram diagrams to obtain useful results from data obtained from assessments. Through a case study, SWAM is shown to be applicable and the results are valuable for an emergent software organization. Specifically, the assessment enables the organization to identify priority knowledge units, to decide the extent of trainings for groups of individuals, to effectively assign project roles, to identify improvement priorities for the practitioners related to their roles and finally facilitates enactment and improvement of the software processes. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.