Non-cognitive abilities of exceptional software engineers: a Delphi study

10/22/2019 ∙ by Wouter Groeneveld, et al. ∙ 0

Important building blocks of software engineering concepts are without a doubt technical. During the last decade, research and practical interest for non-technicalities has grown, revealing the building blocks to be various skills and abilities beside pure technical knowledge. Multiple attempts to categorise these blocks have been made, but so far little international studies have been performed that identify skills by asking experts from both the industrial and academic world: which abilities are needed for a developer to excel in the software engineering industry? To answer this question, we performed a Delphi study, inviting 36 experts from 11 different countries world-wide, affiliated with 21 internationally renowned institutions. This study presents the 55 identified and ranked skills as classified in four major areas: communicative skills (empathy, actively listening, etc.), collaborative skills (sharing responsibility, learning from each other, etc.), problem solving skills (verifying assumptions, solution-oriented thinking, etc.), and personal skills (curiosity, being open to ideas, etc.), of which a comparison has been made between opinions of technical experts, business experts, and academics. We hope this work inspires educators and practitioners to adjust their training programs, mitigating the gap between the industry and the academic world.



There are no comments yet.


page 7

This week in AI

Get the week's most popular data science and artificial intelligence research sent straight to your inbox every Saturday.

1 Introduction

2 Related Work

3 Methodology

4 Results

5 Discussion

6 Limitations

7 Conclusion

8 Acknowledgements


  • (1)
  • Bailey (2014) Janet L Bailey. 2014. Non-technical skills for success in a technical world. International Journal of Business and Social Science 5, 4 (2014).
  • Capretz et al. (2017) Luiz Fernando Capretz, Fahem Ahmed, and Fabio Queda Bueno da Silva. 2017. Soft sides of software. arXiv preprint arXiv:1711.07876 (2017).
  • Eskandari et al. (2007) Hamidreza Eskandari, Serge Sala-Diakanda, Sandra Furterer, Luis Rabelo, Lesia Crumpton-Young, and Kent Williams. 2007. Enhancing the undergraduate industrial engineering curriculum: Defining desired characteristics and emerging topics. Education+ Training 49, 1 (2007), 45–55.
  • Facione (2000) Peter A Facione. 2000. The disposition toward critical thinking: Its character, measurement, and relationship to critical thinking skill. Informal logic 20, 1 (2000).
  • Garousi et al. (2019) Vahid Garousi, Gorkem Giray, Eray Tuzun, Cagatay Catal, and Michael Felderer. 2019. Closing the gap between software engineering education and industrial needs. IEEE Software (2019).
  • Groeneveld et al. (2019) Wouter Groeneveld, Joost Vennekens, and Kris Aerts. 2019. Software engineering education beyond the technical: A systematic literature review. In Proceedings of the 47th Annual SEFI Conference.
  • Holtkamp et al. (2015) Philipp Holtkamp, Jussi PP Jokinen, and Jan M Pawlowski. 2015. Soft competency requirements in requirements engineering, software design, implementation, and testing. Journal of Systems and Software 101 (2015), 136–146.
  • Keil et al. (2013) Mark Keil, Hyung Koo Lee, and Tianjie Deng. 2013. Understanding the most critical skills for managing IT projects: A Delphi study of IT project managers. Information & management 50, 7 (2013), 398–414.
  • Li et al. (2015) Paul Luo Li, Andrew J Ko, and Jiamin Zhu. 2015. What makes a great software engineer?. In Proceedings of the 37th International Conference on Software Engineering-Volume 1. IEEE Press, 700–710.
  • Newport (2016) Cal Newport. 2016. Deep work: Rules for focused success in a distracted world. Hachette UK.
  • Okoli and Pawlowski (2004) Chitu Okoli and Suzanne D Pawlowski. 2004. The Delphi method as a research tool: an example, design considerations and applications. Information & management 42, 1 (2004), 15–29.
  • Sedelmaier and Landes (2014) Yvonne Sedelmaier and Dieter Landes. 2014. Software engineering body of skills (SWEBOS). In Global Engineering Education Conference (EDUCON), 2014 IEEE. IEEE, 395–401.
  • Stevens and Norman (2016) Matt Stevens and Richard Norman. 2016. Industry expectations of soft skills in IT graduates: a regional survey. In Proceedings of the Australasian Computer Science Week Multiconference. ACM, 13.
  • Wynekoop and Walz (2000) Judy L Wynekoop and Diane B Walz. 2000. Investigating traits of top performing software developers. Information Technology & People 13, 3 (2000), 186–195.