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A State-of-the-Practice Survey of Off-the-Shelf Component-Based Development Processes - page 2 / 14





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requirements, which again require revised development processes. Although re- searchers and practitioners have been dealing with such processes quite a time, most studies are based on military or aerospace projects [10], [15], or other large projects. To propose and design cost-effective OTS-based development processes, it is neces- sary to investigate how such projects are performed in different domains and project contexts.

Within a first, exploratory study, we investigated the commonalities and differ- ences between development processes in 16 COTS-based software projects in Nor- way [6]. The study summarized several variations in COTS-based development proc- esses and concluded that the customization of such development processes crucially depends on the project context, such as familiarity with possible COTS components and flexibility of requirements. Due to the small sample size it is necessary to verify these conclusions with a larger and more representative sample.

The study presented in this paper investigated several conclusions about variations in development processes, based on the exploratory study. The results show that the actual OTS component-based development processes are typically variations of well- known process models. In addition, two OTS component selection processes, such as familiarity-based and Internet search-based, are widely used in practice. By summa- rizing the state-of-the-practice of OTS component-based development processes using seven scenarios, we give systematic proposals on how to adopt the OTS-based development and OTS selection processes based on the project context.

The remainder of the paper is structured as follows: Section 2 presents previous studies and their research questions. Section 3 presents selected samples and Section 4 presents the empirical results. Discussions on customizing OTS-based development processes are given in Section 5 and Section 6 separately. Possible threats to validity are discussed in Section 7. Conclusion and future research are in Section 8.

2 Related work and research questions

There is a consensus that the use of COTS components implies changes in the soft- ware process [2]. Some studies focused on the whole software development lifecycle [1], [3], [10]. Others investigated the specific phase, especially in COTS component selection and evaluation [5], [8], [9], [11], [12], [13], [14].

2.1 Process of the whole software development lifecycle

Boehm et al. [3] regard both the waterfall model and evolutionary development as unsuitable for COTS-based development. In the waterfall model, requirements are identified at an earlier stage and COTS components chosen at a later stage. This in- creases the likelihood of COTS components not offering the required features. Evolu- tionary development assumes that additional features can be added if required. How- ever, COTS components cannot be upgraded by one particular development team. The frequent lack of code availability hinders developers to adapt them to their needs. Therefore, Boehm et al. proposed that development models, which explicitly take risk


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