Conference paper Open Access

Monitoring Technical Debt in an Industrial Setting

Elvira-Maria Arvanitou; Apostolos Ampatzoglou; Stamatia Bibi; Alexander Chatzigeorgiou; Ioannis Stamelos

Technical Debt (TD) quantification has been studied in the literature and is supported by various tools; however, there is no common ground on what information shall be presented to stakeholders. Similarly to other quality monitoring processes, it is desirable to provide several views of quality through a dashboard, in which metrics concerning the phenomenon of interest are displayed.

The aim of this study is to investigate the indicators that shall be presented in such a dashboard, so as to: (a) be meaningful for industrial stakeholders, (b) present all necessary information, and (c) be simple enough so that stakeholders can use them.

We explore TD Management (TDM) activities (i.e., measurement, prioritization, repayment) and choose the main concepts that need to be visualized, based on existing literature and toolsupport. Next, we perform a survey with 60 software engineers (i.e., architects, developers, etc.) working for 11 software development companies located in 9 countries, to understand their needs for TDM.

The results of the study suggest that different stakeholders need a different view of the quality dashboard, but also some commonalities can be identified. For example, on the one hand, managers are mostly interested in financial concepts, whereas on the other hand developers are more interested in the nature of the problems that exist in the code. The outcomes of this study can be useful to both researchers and practitioners, in the sense that the former can focus their efforts on aspects that are meaningful to industry, whereas the latter to develop meaningful dashboards, with multiple views.

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