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Making Software by Greg Wilson, Andy Oram

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What Have We Learned?

The results of the two studies are summarized as follows:

  • Problems with requirements, design, and coding accounted for 34% of the total MRs. Requirements account for about 5% of the total MRs and, although not extremely numerous, are particularly important because they have been found so late in the development process, a period during which they are particularly expensive to fix.

  • Testing large, complex real-time systems often requires elaborate test laboratories that are themselves large, complex real-time systems. In the development of this release, testing-related MRs accounted for 25% of the total MRs.

  • The fact that 16% of the total MRs are “no problems” and the presence of a significant set of design and coding faults such as “unexpected dependencies” and “interface and design/code complexity” indicate that lack of system knowledge is a significant problem in the development of this release.

  • Of the design and coding faults, 78% took five days or less to fix; 22% took six or more days to fix. We note that there is a certain overhead factor that is imposed on the fixing of each fault that includes getting consensus, building the relevant pieces of the system, and using the system test laboratory to validate the repairs. Unfortunately, we do not have data on those overhead factors.

  • Five fault categories account for 60% of the design and coding faults: internal functionality, interface complexity, unexpected dependencies, low-level logic, and design/code complexity. ...

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