Addressing Traceability Challenges in the Development of Embedded Systems
Context: Currently, development efforts in embedded systems lead to a large number of interconnected artifacts. Traceability enables understanding and managing these artifacts. However, establishing traceability is not a trivial task, it requires the development organization to plan how traceability will fit into its processes and provide tools to support traceability establishment. In practice, guidelines for establishing traceability are lacking. Therefore, companies struggle with establishing traceability and making the most of traceability.
Objective: The overall objective of this research is to improve traceability processes and tools for embedded systems development. In this thesis, we started with first understanding the domain and practical traceability challenges and also investigated how traceability tools can be improved.
Method:Since establishing traceability is a practical problem, our research is conducted in close collaboration with industry partners. We conducted empirical studies to understand which traceability challenges exist and designed solutions for some of these challenges. Concretely, we used action research, case study and design science methods for the different studies.
Results:Our studies show that establishing traceability in practice has several challenges, the most prominent ones being: the manual work of establishing traceability is high; the engineers responsible for creating the links perceive it as an overhead; lack of tools to enable using traceability; lack of methods and tools to measure its quality; no universal standards for traceability to be exchanged and it is difficult to measure the return on investment of establishing traceability. To reduce the amount of manual work needed to maintain traceability links, we designed guidelines for traceability tool developers. We also show the feasibility of a configurable and extendable traceability management tool. Contributions: As part of this thesis, we have elicited persistent traceability challenges in development of embedded systems development. This list of challenges can also be used by other researchers who are interested in the topic of traceability for embedded systems development. As a first initiative towards solving these challenges, we propose important factors and guidelines for traceability tool developers and organizations that need to acquire traceability tools. Lastly, we have demonstrated the feasibility of these factors and guidelines through a prototype implementation. This implementation is open source and available for industry to use in their development and for other researchers to use for studies and extend the tool.
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Opponent: Prof. Andrea Zisman, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK