Qualitative Analysis for Maintenance Process Assessment

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In order to improve software maintenance processes, we first need to be able to characterize and assess them. These tasks must be performed in depth and with objectivity since the problems are complex. One approach is to set up a measurement-based software process improvement program specifically aimed at maintenance. However, establishing a measurement program requires that one understands the problems to be addressed by the measurement program and is able to characterize the maintenance environment and processes in order to collect suitable and cost-effective data. Also, enacting such a program and getting usable data sets takes time. A short term substitute is therefore needed.

We propose in this paper a characterization process aimed specifically at maintenance and based on a general qualitative analysis methodology. This process is rigorously defined in order to be repeatable and usable by people who are not acquainted with such analysis procedures. A basic feature of our approach is that actual implemented software changes are analyzed in order to understand the flaws in the maintenance process. Guidelines are provided and a case study is shown that demonstrates the usefulness of the approach. (Also cross-referenced as UMIACS-TR-96-7)