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Effort Estimation in Large-Scale Software Development: An Industrial Case Study
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Computing, Department of Software Engineering.
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Computing, Department of Software Engineering.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7220-9570
Ericsson, SWE.
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Computing, Department of Software Engineering.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0639-4234
2018 (English)In: Information and Software Technology, ISSN 0950-5849, E-ISSN 1873-6025, Vol. 99, p. 21-40Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Context: Software projects frequently incur schedule and budget overruns. Planning and estimation are particularlychallenging in large and globally distributed projects. While software engineering researchers have beeninvestigating effort estimation for many years to help practitioners to improve their estimation processes, there is littleresearch about effort estimation in large-scale distributed agile projects.Objective: The main objective of this paper is three-fold: i) to identify how effort estimation is carried out in largescaledistributed agile projects; ii) to analyze the accuracy of the effort estimation processes in large-scale distributedagile projects; and iii) to identify the factors that impact the accuracy of effort estimates in large-scale distributed agileprojects.Method: We performed an exploratory longitudinal case study. The data collection was operationalized througharchival research and semi-structured interviews.Results: The main findings of this study are: 1) underestimation is the dominant trend in the studied case, 2) reestimationat the analysis stage improves the accuracy of the effort estimates, 3) requirements with large size/scopeincur larger effort overruns, 4) immature teams incur larger effort overruns, 5) requirements developed in multi-sitesettings incur larger effort overruns as compared to requirements developed in a collocated setting, and 6) requirementspriorities impact the accuracy of the effort estimates.Conclusion: Effort estimation is carried out at quotation and analysis stages in the studied case. It is a challengingtask involving coordination amongst many different stakeholders. Furthermore, lack of details and changes in requirements,immaturity of the newly on-boarded teams and the challenges associated with the large-scale add complexitiesin the effort estimation process.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2018. Vol. 99, p. 21-40
Keywords [en]
ffort estimation; Large-scale software development; Global and agile software development
National Category
Software Engineering
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:bth-15193DOI: 10.1016/j.infsof.2018.02.009ISI: 000432767900003OAI: oai:DiVA.org:bth-15193DiVA, id: diva2:1143846
Funder
Knowledge FoundationAvailable from: 2017-09-22 Created: 2017-09-22 Last updated: 2018-06-07Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Strategizing and Evaluating the Onboarding of Software Developers in Large-Scale Globally Distributed Legacy Projects
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Strategizing and Evaluating the Onboarding of Software Developers in Large-Scale Globally Distributed Legacy Projects
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Background: Recruitment and onboarding of software developers are essential steps in software development undertakings. The need for adding new people is often associated with large-scale long-living projects and globally distributed projects. The formers are challenging because they may contain large amounts of legacy (and often complex) code (legacy projects). The latters are challenging, because the inability to find sufficient resources in-house may lead to onboarding people at a distance, and often in many distinct sites. While onboarding is of great importance for companies, there is little research about the challenges and implications associated with onboarding software developers and teams in large-scale globally distributed projects with large amounts of legacy code. Furthermore, no study has proposed any systematic approaches to support the design of onboarding strategies and evaluation of onboarding results in the aforementioned context.

Objective: The aim of this thesis is two-fold: i) identify the challenges and implications associated with onboarding software developers and teams in large-scale globally distributed legacy projects; and ii) propose solutions to support the design of onboarding strategies and evaluation of onboarding results in large-scale globally distributed legacy projects.

Method: In this thesis, we employed literature review, case study, and business process modeling. The main case investigated in this thesis is the development of a legacy telecommunication software product in Ericsson.

Results: The results show that the performance (productivity, autonomy, and lead time) of new developers/teams onboarded in remote locations in large-scale distributed legacy projects is much lower than the performance of mature teams. This suggests that new teams have a considerable performance gap to overcome. Furthermore, we learned that onboarding problems can be amplified by the following challenges: the complexity of the product and technology stack, distance to the main source of product knowledge, lack of team stability, training expectation misalignment, and lack of formalism and control over onboarding strategies employed in different sites of globally distributed projects. To help companies addressing the challenges we identified in this thesis, we propose a process to support the design of onboarding strategies and the evaluation of onboarding results.

Conclusions: The results show that scale, distribution and complex legacy code may make onboarding more difficult and demand longer periods of time for new developers and teams to achieve high performance. This means that onboarding in large-scale globally distributed legacy projects must be planned well ahead and companies must be prepared to provide extended periods of mentoring by expensive and scarce resources, such as software architects. Failure to foresee and plan such resources may result in effort estimates on one hand, and unavailability of mentors on another, if not planned in advance. The process put forward herein can help companies to deal with the aforementioned problems through more systematic, effective and repeatable onboarding strategies.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlskrona: Blekinge Tekniska Högskola, 2017
Series
Blekinge Institute of Technology Doctoral Dissertation Series, ISSN 1653-2090 ; 9
National Category
Software Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:bth-15197 (URN)978-91-7295-343-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-11-03, Karlskrona, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Knowledge Foundation
Available from: 2017-09-25 Created: 2017-09-22 Last updated: 2018-01-13Bibliographically approved
2. Improving Expert Estimation of Software Development Effort in Agile Contexts
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Improving Expert Estimation of Software Development Effort in Agile Contexts
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlskrona: Blekinge Tekniska Högskola, 2018
Series
Blekinge Institute of Technology Doctoral Dissertation Series, ISSN 1653-2090 ; 4
Keywords
Expert effort estimation, Agile software development, Checklist
National Category
Software Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:bth-15870 (URN)978-91-7295-350-5 (ISBN)
Public defence
2018-03-20, J1650, BTH Campus Gräsvik, Karlskrona, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2018-02-15 Created: 2018-02-09 Last updated: 2018-04-09Bibliographically approved

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Usman, MuhammadBritto, RicardoBörstler, Jürgen

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