Software Process Improvement (SPI) is a recognised systematic approach for improving the capability of software organisations. Such initiatives have met with a number of difficulties such as: scaling the SPI initiatives, setting realistic goals, the complexity of organisational changes, and the organisational culture. For organisations with no earlier experience with SPI, the first initiative might therefore run the risk of being the last. Therefore understanding SPI and the risks involved in such initiatives may help organisations to run SPI activities more successfully. This paper shows the results of a collaborative research project in which the first SPI initiative in an organisation was analysed based on a framework that maps the characteristic features of SPI. On the basis of our findings we argue that the first SPI initiative: 1) should be a learning process focusing on learning SPI practice, 2) should satisfy organisational goals rather than routinely follow a normative model for reaching a maturity level, 3) should be organised as a project aiming to improve a few software processes based on practitioners’ ideas and needs, and 4) should include analysis to identify the most characteristic feature of the SPI initiative and the risks.