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Group decision-making in software architecture: A study on industrial practices

Publisher : Information and Software Technology

Campus : Coimbatore

School : School of Business

Year : 2018

Abstract : Context: A Software Architecture results from a comprehensive process in which several stakeholders deliberate upon the key requirements, issues, solutions and make architectural design decisions. Literature shows that most architectural decisions, in practice, are made in groups. Still, there is a limited understanding of industrial group decision-making practices in software architecture and the challenges that software architecture groups face. Objective: Our study, by drawing inspiration from group decision-making theories and models, aims at understanding (i) Existing decision-making practices in software architecture groups (ii) the comparison between practice and theory, (iii) the challenges that the groups face, and (iv) the satisfaction of group members with various aspects of Group Decision Making. Method: The study has been conducted through a questionnaire-based survey. 35 practitioners participated in this survey and the responses were analyzed qualitative and quantitatively. Results: The analysis of individual responses reveal that software architecture groups (composed, on average, of 3–5 co-located or dispersed members) adopt a discussion based approach while evaluating alternatives, thereby lacking a structured way of decision-making. In these groups, despite the involvement of group members in the discussions, the final decision is made by an individual of authority. Not only is structured decision-making less common, the usage of dedicated software tools for decision-making too is rare. These groups face challenges that are indicative of Groupthink and Group Polarization. Group members feel that quantity of alternatives generated during discussions and tool availability are below satisfactory and they have low satisfaction with the tool support available. Conclusion: This study has helped us develop an understanding of software architecture groups, their decision-making practices and challenges faced together with the satisfaction of group members. What the industry needs is integration of group decision-making principles into software architecture decision-making and design of decision-making tools that assist the architecture groups. © 2018 Elsevier B.V.

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