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Martí Manzano PhD thesis

Jun 08, 2023

Martí Manzano gets his PhD with the thesis entitled "Specification, Estimation and Monitoring of Quality-Related Software Strategic Indicators in Agile Software Development" done with the supervision of Claudia Ayala and Cristina Gómez

Advisors: Claudia Ayala and Cristina Gómez

Panel composed by: Oscar Pastor, Sandro Morasca, Jordi Marco

Abstract of the thesis

In line with the current trend of exploiting corporative data, software companies, especially those using Agile and Rapid software development, are challenged to improve the quality of their products, their profitability and efficiency by exploiting the large amount of data related to their software processes and products from the use of their corporate tools (e.g., continuous inspection tools, continuous integration tools, project management tools, and issue trackers).

Although such data exploitation has shown to be beneficial for supporting decision-making processes, the evidence shows that existing support is mostly related to operational decisions, letting aside the support for strategic decision making. Operational decisions are simple routine decisions linked to the effective and efficient execution of the daily operations within the company (e.g., test specification and implementation, bug tracking, version control, etc...). Strategic decisions refer to complex, non-routine decisions related to business goals and objectives.
The main problems that endanger the task of supporting strategic decision making through data exploitation are: a) the lack of approaches that help software companies to specify their own software strategic indicators (SSI). SSIs refer to measurable aspects (e.g., software quality, on-time delivery) that a software company considers important for their strategic decision-making processes, b) the inherent complexity of estimating SSIs, and c) the need of supporting the operationalization of the specification and estimation of SSIs by enabling their monitoring.

This PhD thesis aims to overcome these problems by:

  • Devising a novel method called SESSI (Specification and Estimation of Software Strategic Indicators) that provides support for operationalizing the specification, estimation, and monitoring of SSIs in software companies. The method was conceived under design science and action-research principles in the context of the industrial partners of the Q-Rapids European project and applied to quality-related SSIs.
  • Presenting how the use of the SESSI method and associated software supporting artifacts has shown promising results to enable an SSI monitoring infrastructure according to the needs and resources of a software company.

Additionally, this thesis explores the potential use of the resulting monitoring infrastructure and other related outputs from the SESSI method for enabling advanced decision-making support. In particular, a solution for forecasting the values of SSIs based on the SESSI method was applied in a software development company with positive results.

The results of this thesis aim to advance the state of the art on approaches to support evidence-based strategic decision making, in software companies using agile and rapid software development. The developed software support artifacts have been released as open source and can be reused and/or adapted by other software companies or researchers.