Improving Change Management in Software Development: Integrating Traceability and Software Configuration Management

Author(s): Kannan Mohan, Peng Xu, Lan Cao and Balasubramaniam Ramesh
Venue: Decision Support Systems
Date: 2008



This paper presents the integration of traceability and software configuration management systems to help during the development and evolution of software artifacts. They develop a traceability model using a case study conducted in a software development organization. They then develop a traceability tool from this model and integrate it with a software configuration management tool. Finally they illustrate the usefulness of this approach through scenarios from a case study and a qualitative evaluation.

The study was conducted over a period of 2 years, which consisted of multiple structured and semi-structured interviews with five developers and two project managers. The traceability and change management practices of the development team were observed as it went through several phases of its development life cycle.

Their research found that software developers should consider the relationship between configuration management and traceability. And although the definition of software configuration management encompasses traceability, they are often practiced in isolation. Their approach of integrating the two helped in the following scenarios:

1. When a development team is tasked to make changes to a system, the knowledge of traceability is useful in helping understand past decisions and changes especially when they are not the original implementers of the system.

2. Where there is employee turnover, the knowledge documented in the system helps to partially retain knowledge that would be lost otherwise.

3. The knowledge of traceability can be useful for software projects that are of similar design, and can lead to the development of general best practices that can be shared across projects.

4. The issues discussed in the paper pertain to both novice and experienced developers and organizations.