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Problems and their mitigation in system and software architecting


Peter Wallin, Stig Larsson , Joakim Fröberg , Jakob Axelsson

Publication Type:

Journal article


Information and Software Technology 54.7 (2012)





Context:Today, software and embedded systems act as enablers for developing new functionality in traditional industries such as the automotive, process automation, and manufacturing automation domains. This differs from 25–30 years ago when these systems where based on electronics and electro-mechanical solutions. The architecture of the embedded system and of the software is important to ensure the qualities of these applications. However, the effort of designing and evolving the architecture is in practice often neglected during system development, whilst development efforts are centered on implementing new functionality.Objective:We present problems and success factors that are central to the architectural development of software intensive systems in the domain of automotive and automation products as judged by practitioners.Method:The method consisted of three steps. First, we used semi-structured interviews to collect data in an exploratory manner. As a second step, a survey based on problems extracted from the interview data was used to investigate the occurrence of these problems at a wider range of organizations. In order to identify and suggest how to mitigate the problems that were considered important, we finally performed root cause analysis workshops, and from these a number of success factors were elicited.Results:A total of 21 problems have been identified based on the interview data, and these are related to the technical, organizational, project, and agreement processes. Based on the survey results, the following four problems were selected for a root cause analysis: (1) there is a lack of process for architecture development, (2) there is a lack of method or model to evaluate the business value when choosing the architecture, (3) there is a lack of clear long-term architectural strategy, and (4) processes and methods are less valued than knowledge and competence of individuals.Conclusion:In conclusion, the following identified success factors are crucial components to be successful in developing software intensive systems: (1) define an architectural strategy, (2) implement a process for architectural work, (3) ensure authority for architects, (4) clarify the business impact of the architecture, and (5) optimize on the project portfolio level instead of optimizing each project.


author = {Peter Wallin and Stig Larsson and Joakim Fr{\"o}berg and Jakob Axelsson},
title = {Problems and their mitigation in system and software architecting},
volume = {54},
number = {7},
pages = {686--700},
month = {July},
year = {2012},
journal = {Information and Software Technology},
publisher = {Elsevier},
url = {}