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The Impact of Forced Working-From-Home on Code Technical Debt: An Industrial Case Study
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: 0000-0003-1350-7030
Linnaeus University.
2022 (English)In: Proceedings - 48th Euromicro Conference on Software Engineering and Advanced Applications, SEAA 2022 / [ed] Callico G.M., Hebig R., Wortmann A., Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), 2022, p. 298-305Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Background: The COVID-19 outbreak interrupted regular activities for over a year in many countries and resulted in a radical change in ways of working for software development companies, i.e., most software development companies switched to a forced Working-From-Home (WFH) mode. Aim: Although several studies have analysed different aspects of forced WFH mode, it is unknown whether and to what extent WFH impacted the accumulation of technical debt (TD) when developers have different ways to coordinate and communicate with peers. Method: Using the year 2019 as a baseline, we carried out an industrial case study to analyse the evolution of TD in five components that are part of a large project while WFH. As part of the data collection, we carried out a focus group with developers to explain the different patterns observed from the quantitative data analysis. Results: TD accumulated at a slower pace during WFH as compared with the working-from-office period in four components out of five. These differences were found to be statistically significant. Through a focus group, we have identified different factors that might explain the changes in TD accumulation. One of these factors is responsibility diffusion which seems to explain why TD grows faster during the WFH period in one of the components. Conclusion: The results suggest that when the ways of working change, the change between working from office and working from home does not result in an increased accumulation of TD. © 2022 IEEE.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), 2022. p. 298-305
Series
Proceedings of the EUROMICRO Conference
Keywords [en]
Case Study, COVID-19, Empirical Study, Industrial Study, Technical Debt, Telework, Work From Home
National Category
Software Engineering
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:bth-24427DOI: 10.1109/SEAA56994.2022.00054Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85142493452ISBN: 9781665461528 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:bth-24427DiVA, id: diva2:1749687
Conference
48th Euromicro Conference on Software Engineering and Advanced Applications, SEAA 2022, Gran Canaria, 31 August through 2 September 2022
Available from: 2023-04-11 Created: 2023-04-11 Last updated: 2023-04-18Bibliographically 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, EhsanGonzalez-Huerta, Javier

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