Release Cycle Management: A Contextualist Inquiry into Recurrent Software Development
15 Pages Posted: 21 Jan 2015
Date Written: September 14, 2014
Software development is increasingly conducted in a recurrent fashion, where the same product or service is continuously being developed for the marketplace. Still, we lack detailed studies about this increasingly important form of software development. Against this backdrop, this paper presents an action research study into Software Inc., a large multi-national software provider. The research addressed the challenges the company faced in managing releases and organizing software process improvement (SPI) to help recurrently develop and deliver a specific product, Secure-on-Request, to its customers and the wider marketplace. The initial problem situation was characterized by recent acquisition of additional software, complexity of service delivery, new engineering and product management teams, and low software development process maturity. Asking how release management can be organized and improved in recurrent development of software, we draw on Pettigrew’s contextualist inquiry to focus on the ongoing interaction between contents, context and process in organizing and improving release cycle practices and outcomes. As a result, the paper offers two contributions. Practically, it contributes to the resolution of the problem situation at Software Inc. Theoretically, it introduces a new software engineering discipline, release cycle management (RCM), focused on recurrent delivery of software, including SPI as an integral part, and grounded in the specific experiences at Software Inc.
Keywords: Recurrent Software Development, Release Management, SPI, IDEAL Cycle, Contextualize inquiry.
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