User involvement in software evolution practice: A case study

Author(s): D. Pagano, B Bruegge
Venue: 2013 35th International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE)
Date: 18-26 May 2013

Type of Experiement: Case Study
Sample Size: 5
Class/Experience Level: Professional
Data Collection Method: Observation, Survey


The case study explores the current practice of user involvement in software evolution. User involvement is an established research field in software engineering. The goal is to maximize system usefulness and usability by understanding users’ needs and expectations. Previous studies focus on user involvement in user-centered design projects, but little is known about how professionals work with end-user feedback. The study aims to identify the benefits and challenges of doing so in an empirical case study conducted between June and September 2012.

The intent of the study was to determine what happens with user feedback in development environments and the underlying rationale. The paper describes settings put in place to involve users and the reasons for and process behind user feedback data collection. It also aims to derive a catalog of hypotheses that can be used to guide further research and efforts aimed at developing tools to work with feedback on user involvement.

The study collected data from five small and medium-sized software development companies. During the course of the study the team explored the current practice of user involvement during software evolution. They determined user feedback contains important information that developers can use to help improve the quality of software and utilize to identify missing features. The study showed that in order to obtain this data, developers had to analyze gathered feedback by hand. This beckons the need for tools that would aim to help analyze and track user feedback, reducing the effort required by developers sifting through the end user feedback.

The paper concludes by stating that future work should aim at developing tools to help facilitate user involvement. They further suggest performing empirical studies such as content analyses of user feedback in order to elicit requirements for the new tools.