Structuring Software Engineering Case Studies to Cover Multiple Perspectives
Paper in proceedings, 2011
Case studies are used in software engineering (SE) research for detailed study of phenomena in their real-world context. There are guidelines listing important factors to consider when designing case studies, but there is a lack of advice on how to structure the collected information and ensure its breadth. Without considering multiple perspectives, such as business and organization, there is a risk that too few perspectives are covered.
The objective of this paper is to develop a framework to give structure and ensure breadth of a SE case study.
For an analysis of the verification and validation practices of a Swedish software company we developed an analytical framework based on two dimensions. The matrix spanned by the dimensions (perspective and time) helped structure data collection and connect different findings. A six-step process was defined to adapt and execute the framework at the company and we exemplify its use and describe its perceived advantages and disadvantages.
The framework simplified the analysis and gave a broader understanding of the studied practices but there is a trade- off with the depth of the results, making the framework more suitable for explorative, open-ended studies.