Actual results of software process improvement projects show different levels of success. Although many software development organisations have adopted improvement models such as CMMI, it appears to be difficult to improve software development processes in the right way, e.g. tuned to the actual needs of the organisation. This paper presents a new approach to determine the direction of improvement for an organisation. This approach is based on an elaboration of the concept of entropy. The approach is empirically validated by carrying out interviews in 11 software development organisations in The Netherlands. The results of the research show that software development organisations can be classified and can be positioned on the basis of their internal and external entropy, c.q. the level of (dis)order in the business system and its environment. Based on a possible out-of-balance situation between the internal and external entropy, directions for software process improvement can be discussed. As such the proposed approach can support the application of current software process improvement methodologies such as the CMMI.