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Success and Failure Factors in Software Reuse
April 2002 (vol. 28 no. 4)
pp. 340-357

This paper aims at identifying some of the key factors in adopting or running a company-wide software reuse program. Key factors are derived from empirical evidence of reuse practices, as emerged from a survey of projects for the introduction of reuse in European companies: 24 such projects performed from 1994 to 1997 were analyzed using structured interviews. The projects were undertaken in both large and small companies, working in a variety of business domains, and using both object-oriented and procedural development approaches. Most of them produce software with high commonality between applications, and have at least reasonably mature processes. Despite that apparent potential for success, around one-third of the projects failed. Three main causes of failure were not introducing reuse-specific processes, not modifying nonreuse processes, and not considering human factors. The root cause was a lack of commitment by top management, or nonawareness of the importance of those factors, often coupled with the belief that using the object-oriented approach or setting up a repository seamlessly is all that is necessary to achieve success in reuse. Conversely, successes were achieved when, given a potential for reuse because of commonality among applications, management committed to introducing reuse processes, modifying nonreuse processes, and addressing human factors. While addressing those three issues turned out to be essential, the lower-level details of how to address them varied greatly: for instance, companies produced large-grained or small-grained reusable assets, did or did not perform domain analysis, did or did not use dedicated reuse groups, used specific tools for the repository or no tools. As far as these choices are concerned, the key point seems to be the sustainability of the approach and its suitability to the context of the company.

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Index Terms:
survey, software reuse, empirical study
Citation:
M. Morisio, M. Ezran, C. Tully, "Success and Failure Factors in Software Reuse," IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 340-357, April 2002, doi:10.1109/TSE.2002.995420
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