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Software process models vs. descriptions: What do practitioners use and need?

: Diebold, Philipp; Scherr, Simon André


Association for Computing Machinery -ACM-; Association for Computing Machinery -ACM-, Special Interest Group on Software Engineering -SIGSOFT-:
International Conference on Software and System Process, ICSSP 2016. Proceedings : Co-Located with 38th International Conference on Software Engineering, Austin, Texas, May 14 - 22, 2016
New York: ACM Press, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-4503-4188-2
International Conference on Software and Systems Process (ICSSP) <2016, Austin/Tex.>
International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE) <38, 2016, Austin/Tex.>
Fraunhofer IESE ()
development process; process model; empirical study; state of the practice; process modeling language; process documentation; process; process management; interviewing

Context: It is well known that in software engineering, software or system development processes are very important for getting a high quality product. Such processes can be described in many different ways, from textual documents to existing modeling notations.
Objective: Before dealing with the overall goal of improving the description of development processes, this paper evaluates what process descriptions look like in practice and why they look like they do, with special focus on the degree of formality.
Method: Based on a structured, semi-formal interview guideline with open and closed questions, a series of twelve interviews was conducted in German companies of different sizes (from ten to several thousand employees). The interview results were used for an analysis to come up with findings regarding the current usage of and need for software process models or descriptions.
Results: In general, our results confirm the literature statement that in industrial practice the majority of processes focus on description rather than using formal notations or models. Nevertheless, they use semi-formal process descriptions containing different graphical, table-based, or structured-text elements for representation.
Conclusions: It is interesting that even if companies do not want to use formal models, they would like to have the advantages offered by them. Our findings provide evidence of the state of the practice regarding usage and show the need for future work in this area of describing and modeling development processes.