Software maintainability: Perceptions of EDP professionals

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Software maintenance continues to be one of the most complex problems facing much of the software industry. This study examines EDP professionals' perceptions of what makes software maintainable. Perceptions were assessed through a series of factor analyses on the data collected from a survey of 149 professionals from 20 organizations of varying sizes. The respondents were asked to rate the relative importance of various features which contribute to the ease of maintenance. Results showed that EDP professionals do not share a common perception of software maintainability: software project managers have different perceptions of what contributes to the ease of maintenance than those who are directly involved in maintenance operations. If those who manage and those who actually maintain software do not, in fact, agree on the importance of maintenance factors, then the maintenance problem is much more complex than EDP professionals or software engineers might have originally thought. Perhaps this is the reason why, according to the survey, EDP professionals are less than optimistic in general about the ability of state-of-the-art approaches to solve the problems of software maintenance.

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MIS Quarterly: Management Information Systems