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«This research has been partially sponsored by the Dutch Joint Academic and Commer- cial Quality Research & Development (Jacquard) program on Software ...»

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Architectural Knowledge Management

in Global Software Development

Viktor Clerc


The research reported in this thesis has been carried out under the auspices of SIKS, the

Dutch Research School for Information and Knowledge Systems.

This research has been partially sponsored by the Dutch Joint Academic and Commer-

cial Quality Research & Development (Jacquard) program on Software Engineering

Research via contract 638.001.406 GRIFFIN: a GRId For inFormatIoN about architec-

tural knowledge.

This research has been partially sponsored by DNV-CIBIT. Parts of this research have been performed in collaboration with DNV-CIBIT.


prof.dr. P. Avgeriou (University of Groningen) prof.dr. S. Brinkkemper (Utrecht University) dr. B. J. van den Hooff (VU University Amsterdam) prof.dr. P.B.K. Kruchten (University of British Columbia) dr. I. Richardson (Lero, University of Limerick) ISBN 978-90-8891-335-8 NUR 982 SIKS Dissertation series No. 2011-40 Copyright c 2011, Viktor Clerc All rights reserved unless otherwise stated Published by Uitgeverij BOXPress, Oisterwijk Printed on FSC-certified paper Cover illustration by Mark van ’t Zet Typeset in LTEX by the author A


Architectural Knowledge Management in Global Software Development


ter verkrijging van de graad Doctor aan de Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, op gezag van de rector magnificus prof.dr. L.M. Bouter, in het openbaar te verdedigen ten overstaan van de promotiecommissie van de faculteit der Exacte Wetenschappen op dinsdag 13 december 2011 om 11.45 uur in de aula van de universiteit, De Boelelaan 1105 door Viktor Clerc geboren te Amsterdam promotor: prof.dr. J.C. van Vliet copromotor: dr. P. Lago Table of Contents Table of Contents v Acknowledgments xiii 1 Introduction 1

1.1 Setting the Stage............................. 2 1.1.1 Software architecture....................... 2 1.1.2 Knowledge management..................... 3 1.1.3 Architectural knowledge..................... 4

1.2 Introducing Global Software Development................ 5 1.2.1 Definition of GSD............

–  –  –

8.1 Scenario 1 through the semantic query interface in SE-Wiki....... 119

8.2 Scenario 2 through an in-line semantic query in SE-Wiki........ 120

8.3 Scenario 3 through comparison in SE-Wiki................ 121

9.1 Typical project team structure at Organization E............ 128

9.2 Use of the “frequent interaction across sites” practice.......... 131

–  –  –

While employed at the Software Engineering Research Centre (SERC) in Utrecht, the Netherlands, one of my colleagues once said: “Having obtained a Ph.D. prior to starting

employment at SERC, there is a single thing I would never recommend to anyone:

pursuing a part-time Ph.D.” Well, this book is the tangible evidence that it in fact can be done, albeit not without the great help of so many people supporting me.

First of all, I sincerely would like to thank my supervisors Hans van Vliet and Patricia Lago. Hans, for guiding me along the complete journey: our initial discussions late 2004, setting up the various necessary formalities, and for his continuous effort in making me “focus” and keeping me in line. Now I see that’s what it is about in performing research – I really thank Hans for offering me this opportunity, and for the opportunity to finish my research when the research project formally had ended. With Patricia, I obviously share the love for Italy and the game of baseball. Even more important, I greatly value the continuous discussions on the set up of research experiments, identification of new angles to address observations, and, again, showing me how to keep “focus”.

In performing this research, I had the opportunity to collaborate with so many bright colleagues within the GRIFFIN and Stephenson research projects. At the University of Groningen: Dieter K. Hammer, Paris Avgeriou, Anton Jansen, Peng Liang, and Jan S. van der Ven. At the VU University, the list of colleagues is even longer: first of all, a thanks to Rik Farenhorst and Remco C. de Boer for being perfect colleagues in the GRIFFIN-team; especially at the times I was physically present at the university, but also during off hours. Specifically, Remco’s sharpness in the various debates we had and Rik’s cooperativeness contributed to the results of my research. Next, the continuous evolution of the research group at the VU brought many fruitful insights: I thank Qing Gu, Maryam Razavian, and Damian Tamburri for this. Together with Antony Tang and Christina Manteli I enjoyed to carry out my final case study in the Stephenson project.

Joost Schalken and Rahul Premraj provided indispensable statistical advice in some of the case studies. Finally, I am thankful for the support of Master’s students that contributed to parts of this research: Ibrahim D¨ z and Edwin de Vries.

u The research reported in this thesis is the result of various case studies at several industrial partners. It has been a pleasure in collaborating with these partners and in particular Robert Deckers, Tim Trew, Heleen Hollenberg, Rob van Twist, Guido Schoonheim, Eltjo Poort, and Hub van de Laar.

Though research contexts never are fully stable, this certainly was not the case for my employer’s context. After my professional career had started at SERC, it continued at CIBIT, which later became DNV-CIBIT, and even more recently inspearit; “never a dull moment”, one might say. During my professional career, it was possible for me to gain new insights and to grow and develop myself as a professional. While collaborating with Dutch and foreign colleagues on various significant projects, it was a pleasure observing the interest for my research expressed by them.

Needless to say, I greatly appreciate the opportunity of pursuing my Ph.D. while continuing my work as IT consultant and trainer. This purely win-win situation was initially discussed with Ernst van Aagten and Gert Florijn, later formalized thanks to Johan den Biggelaar, and ultimately, while approaching the final stages, supported by Yann Ha




Support in off-work hours was to a great extent provided by my friends. Special thanks go to Jasper Videler; thanks for being a friend, playing ball, and literally whetting and developing my culinary appetite; I will surely spend more time at your place! In addition, I thank the guys and girls from AMVJ for the perspective they brought while playing ball, sharing drinks, and enjoying numerous (non-)sport trips.

My parents Hans and Conny, brother Ren´, and other family always showed me that e it is important to fully pursue ambition, starting day one; this advice has paid off and continues to guide me in life.

There is one person who never could have foreseen what the decision to step into this research actually means. Having met me when I just started this journey, you supported and loved me in all that I do; late at night, early in the morning, or even abroad. Rianne, thanks for your patience and support: I can’t wait to step into the future with you.

–  –  –

The use of software in our daily lives plays an increasingly important role. Software enables us to communicate across geographical and organizational borders: it allows us to stay in contact with loved ones that enjoy their holidays at the other side of the world and facilitates multi-national organizations to collaborate (cost-)effectively. These developments increase the need for software to satisfy the needs of its ever increasing demand of use.

Software engineering is the discipline that covers a structured approach of developing (large-scale) software systems; it is “the application of a systematic, disciplined, quantifiable approach to development, operation, and maintenance of software; that is, the application of engineering to software” (IEEE, 1990). Although the notion of software engineering indeed arose from the comparison with engineers and civil architects, one of the main differences between software engineering and civil engineering includes the actual physical effort put into civil craftmanship (construction of a building) versus software craftmanship (building software, e.g., via generation). Although the discipline of software engineering is relatively young as compared to civil engineering, several practices from civil engineering have been successfully translated for use in software engineering, e.g., the importance of architecting activities and the definition and use of design patterns (Alexander et al., 1977).

Traditionally, software development occured using a waterfall-like development process. In this process, the requirements are fixed and the software design is built and completed based upon those requirements. Next, the implementation commences and when implementation is finished, the testing phase is started. The waterfall development process does only to a limited extent cater for incorporation of the experiences collected in each of the analysis, design, or implementation activities, see (Royce, 1970). To overcome these difficulties and address the explicit need to cater for changing requirements during the software development lifecycle, more incremental and iterative software development processes matured. Larman and Basili (2003) provide a good overview by describing a brief history of iterative and incremental development processes.

All in all, software engineering has matured over the last decades. Since the term was first coined at the NATO conference on Software Engineering (Naur and Randell, 1968), several improvements have been made – yet, several authors still refer to the software crisis in that software engineering in fact boils down to “(... ) handcrafting from

11. Introduction

raw programmiong languages by artisans using techniques they neither measure nor are able to repeat consistently” (Gibbs, 1994; The Standish Group International, 1994);

others, however, place some question marks at the use of the term crisis, consider e.g., (Glass, 2006). One may conjecture that, because of the ongoing globalization which allows for continuous learning, more and more best practices are identified and incorporated in software engineering methods. New insights are gained on almost a daily basis – these insights require more fundamental and empirical research to provide a scientific basis for its adequate and successful application. This is what has been done in this thesis: we join two recent disciplines and identify how mainly empirically obtained research insights can contribute in increasing the success of each of them. The first discipline concerns the management of architectural knowledge; the integrated representation of the architecture of a software system including e.g., design decisions (see §1.1.3 for a full definition). The second discipline concerns global software development, one of the most frequently chosen solutions by organizations to lower development cost (Carmel and Agarwal, 2001) or speed up development time (Carmel, 1999).

In this chapter, we lay the foundation for the remainder of this thesis. We set the stage by providing a summary of the key advances in the area of software architecture, knowledge management, and architectural knowledge in §1.1. Next, we provide an extensive introduction into global software development in §1.2. We present the context in which we performed the research in §1.3. The problem statement for the research is given in §1.4. In §1.5, we present our research questions. Next, §1.6 describes the research methods used. Finally, in §1.7 we list the publications upon which this thesis is based.

1.1 Setting the Stage 1.1.1 Software architecture One of the more recent advances of software engineering includes the subdiscipline of software architecture. Software architecture traditionally is regarded as a combination of elements, form, and rationale (Perry and Wolf, 1992). As Perry and Wolf describe, this comprises processing, data, or connecting elements, the properties and relationships among these elements, and the underlying basis for the architecture (e.g., constraints).

Kruchten (1995) provides his experiences in describing a software architecture according to a view model consisting of several predefined views, each addressing specific concern, and a scenario view, allowing for illustration according to the architecture by means of a series of use cases.

A further elaboration of the notion of view model as provided by Kruchten is given in the IEEE 1471 recommended practice (IEEE, 2000). According to the standard, each software-intensive system has an architecture that can be described according to predened viewpoints. These viewpoints are designed to accommodate for the concerns of designated stakeholders. One of the main advantages of view-based architectural descriptions is that it enables early interaction with stakeholders. In addition, its basis for a work breakdown structure and the early assessment of quality attributes is discussed

2 1.1. Setting the Stage

in (Bass et al., 2003; Clements et al., 2003).

More recently, viewing the architecture of a software system as a set of design decisions has experienced an increase of interest (Bosch, 2004; Kruchten et al., 2006;

van Vliet, 2008; Jansen, 2008; Farenhorst and de Boer, 2009). This new paradigm initiated a new research effort in the area of software architecture, namely how the architecture can be described effectively by means of these decisions, and how reasoning over the body of architectural knowledge can be further enhanced and supported.

It has led to e.g., a decision view in software architecture (Due˜ as and Capilla, 2005;

n Kruchten et al., 2009) and the definition of a virtual community for architectural knowledge sharing (Lago et al., 2010).

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