Reflections on conducting an international survey of software engineering
Component-based software engineering (CBSE) with Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) or Open Source Software (OSS) components are more and more frequently being used in industrial software development. We therefore need to issue experience-based guidelines for the evaluation, selection and integration of such components. We have performed a survey on industrial COTS/OSS development in three countries - Norway, Italy and Germany. Concrete survey results, e.g. on risk management policies and process tailoring, are not being described here, but in other papers. This is a method paper, reporting on the challenges, approaches and experiences gained by conducting the main survey. The main contributions are as follows: At best we can achieve a stratifled-random sample of ICT companies, followed by a convenience sample of relevant projects. This is probably the first software engineering survey using census type data, and has revealed that the entire sampling and contact process ca n be unexpectedly expensive. It is also hard to avoid national variations in the total process, possibly leading to uncontrollable method biases.