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Assets in Software Engineering: What are they after all?
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Computing, Department of Software Engineering.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1729-5154
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Computing, Department of Software Engineering.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3995-6125
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Computing, Department of Software Engineering.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1350-7030
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Computing, Department of Software Engineering.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0619-6027
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2022 (English)In: Journal of Systems and Software, ISSN 0164-1212, E-ISSN 1873-1228, Vol. 193, article id 111485Article, review/survey (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

During the development and maintenance of software-intensive products or services, we depend on various artefacts. Some of those artefacts, we deem central to the feasibility of a project and the product's final quality. Typically, these central artefacts are referred to as assets. However, despite their central role in the software development process, little thought is yet invested into what eventually characterises as an asset, often resulting in many terms and underlying concepts being mixed and used inconsistently. A precise terminology of assets and related concepts, such as asset degradation, are crucial for setting up a new generation of cost-effective software engineering practices. In this position paper, we critically reflect upon the notion of assets in software engineering. As a starting point, we define the terminology and concepts of assets and extend the reasoning behind them. We explore assets’ characteristics and discuss what asset degradation is as well as its various types and the implications that asset degradation might bring for the planning, realisation, and evolution of software-intensive products and services over time. We aspire to contribute to a more standardised definition of assets in software engineering and foster research endeavours and their practical dissemination in a common, more unified direction. © 2022 The Authors

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2022. Vol. 193, article id 111485
Keywords [en]
Asset degradation, Asset management, Assets, Software artefacts, Technical debt, Cost effectiveness, Cost engineering, Software design, Asset, Assets management, Cost effective, Position papers, Product and services, Software development process, Software engineering practices, Technical debts, Terminology
National Category
Software Engineering
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:bth-23601DOI: 10.1016/j.jss.2022.111485ISI: 000967989300022Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85136495111OAI: oai:DiVA.org:bth-23601DiVA, id: diva2:1694904
Part of project
SHADE- A value-oriented strategy for managing the degradation of software assets, Knowledge FoundationSERT- Software Engineering ReThought, Knowledge Foundation
Funder
Knowledge Foundation, 20170176Knowledge Foundation, 20180010
Note

open access

Available from: 2022-09-12 Created: 2022-09-12 Last updated: 2023-05-08Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Understanding Asset Degradation in Software Engineering
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Understanding Asset Degradation in Software Engineering
2023 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Background: As software is everywhere, and almost every company has nowadays a dependency on software, designing and developing software-intensive products or services has become significantly challenging and time-consuming. The challenges are due to the continuous growth of the size and complexity of software and the fast pace of change. It is important that software-developing organisations’ engineering practices adapt to the rising challenges by adopting well-engineered development activities. Organisations deal with many software artefacts, some of which are more relevant for the organisation. We define Software Assets as artefacts intended to be used more than once. Given softwared evelopment’s continuous and evolutionary aspect, the assets involved degrade over time. Organisations need to understand what assets are relevant and how they degrade to exercise quality control over software assets. Asset degradation is inevitable, and it may manifest in different ways. 

Objective: The main objective of this thesis is: (i) to contribute to the software engineering body of knowledge by providing an understanding of what assets are and how they degrade; and (ii) to gather empirical evidence regarding asset degradation and different factors that might impact it on industrial settings. 

Method: To achieve the thesis goals, several studies have been conducted. The collected data is from peer-reviewed literature and collaboration with five companies that included extracting archival data from over 20 million LOC and archival data from open-source repositories. 

Results: The first contribution of this thesis is defining the concept of assets and asset degradation in a position paper. We aim to provide an understanding of software assets and asset degradation and its impact on software development.  Additionally, a taxonomy of assets is created using academic and industrial input. The taxonomy includes 57 assets and their categories. To further investigate the concept of asset degradation, we have conducted in-depth analyses of multiple industrial case studies on selected assets. This thesis presents results to provide evidence on the impact of different factors on asset degradation, including: (I) how the accumulation of technical debt is affected by different development activities; (ii) how degradation ‘survives’; and (iii) how working from home or the misalignment between ownership and contribution impacts the faster accumulation of asset degradation. Additionally, we created a model to calculate the degree of the alignment between ownership and contribution to code. 

Conclusion: The results can help organisations identify and understand the relevant software assets and characterize their quality degradation. Understanding how assets degrade and which factors might impact their faster accumulation is the first step to conducting sufficient and practical asset management activities. For example, by engaging (i) proactively in preventing uncontrolled growth of degradation (e.g., aligning ownership and contribution); and (ii) reactively in prioritizing mitigation strategies and activities (focusing on recently introducing TD items).

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlskrona: Blekinge Tekniska Högskola, 2023
Series
Blekinge Institute of Technology Doctoral Dissertation Series, ISSN 1653-2090 ; 5
Keywords
Assets in Software Engineering, Asset Management, Asset Degradation, Technical Debt
National Category
Software Engineering
Research subject
Software Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:bth-24429 (URN)978-91-7295-455-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2023-05-31, J1630 och Zoom, Campus Karlskrona, Karlskrona, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2023-04-12 Created: 2023-04-11 Last updated: 2023-06-07Bibliographically approved

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Zabardast, EhsanFrattini, JulianGonzalez-Huerta, JavierMendez, DanielGorschek, TonyWnuk, Krzysztof

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