How Developers and Managers Define and Trade Productivity for Quality

by   Margaret-Anne Storey, et al.

In this paper, we present the findings from a survey study to investigate how developers and managers define and trade-off developer productivity and software quality (two related lenses into software development). We found that developers and managers, as cohorts, are not well aligned in their views of what it means to be productive (developers think of productivity in terms of activity, while more managers think of productivity in terms of performance). We also found that developers are not accurate at predicting their managers' views of productivity. In terms of quality, we found that individual developers and managers have quite varied views of what quality means to them, but as cohorts they are closely aligned in their different views, with the majority in both groups defining quality in terms of robustness. Over half of the developers and managers reported that quality can be traded for higher productivity and why this trade-off can be justified, while one third consider quality as a necessary part of productivity that cannot be traded. We also present a new descriptive framework for quality, TRUCE, that we synthesize from the survey responses. We call for more discussion between developers and managers about what they each consider as important software quality attributes, and to have open debate about how software quality relates to developer productivity and what trade-offs should or should not be made.


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