University of Oulu

E. Klotins et al., "A Progression Model of Software Engineering Goals, Challenges, and Practices in Start-Ups," in IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, vol. 47, no. 3, pp. 498-521, 1 March 2021, doi: 10.1109/TSE.2019.2900213

A progression model of software engineering goals, challenges, and practices in start-ups

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Author: Klotins, Eriks1; Unterkalmsteiner, Michael1; Chatzipetrou, Panagiota2,3;
Organizations: 1Software Engineering Research Lab Sweden, Blekinge Institute of Technology, Karlskrona, Sweden
2Software Engineering Research Lab, Blekinge Institute of Technology, Karlskrona, Sweden
3Department of Informatics, CERIS, Örebro University School of Business, SE-701 82 Örebro, Sweden
4Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
5University of Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.2 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 2021
Publish Date: 2019-04-16


Context: Software start-ups are emerging as suppliers of innovation and software-intensive products. However, traditional software engineering practices are not evaluated in the context, nor adopted to goals and challenges of start-ups. As a result, there is insufficient support for software engineering in the start-up context. Objective: We aim to collect data related to engineering goals, challenges, and practices in start-up companies to ascertain trends and patterns characterizing engineering work in start-ups. Such data allows researchers to understand better how goals and challenges are related to practices. This understanding can then inform future studies aimed at designing solutions addressing those goals and challenges. Besides, these trends and patterns can be useful for practitioners to make more informed decisions in their engineering practice. Method: We use a case survey method to gather first-hand, in-depth experiences from a large sample of software start-ups. We use open coding and cross-case analysis to describe and identify patterns, and corroborate the findings with statistical analysis. Results: We analyze 84 start-up cases and identify 16 goals, 9 challenges, and 16 engineering practices that are common among start- ups. We have mapped these goals, challenges, and practices to start-up life-cycle stages (inception, stabilization, growth, and maturity). Thus, creating the progression model guiding software engineering efforts in start-ups. Conclusions: We conclude that start-ups to a large extent face the same challenges and use the same practices as established companies. However, the primary software engineering challenge in start-ups is to evolve multiple process areas at once, with a little margin for serious errors.

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Series: IEEE transactions on software engineering
ISSN: 0098-5589
ISSN-E: 1939-3520
ISSN-L: 0098-5589
Volume: 47
Issue: 3
Pages: 498 - 521
DOI: 10.1109/TSE.2019.2900213
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 113 Computer and information sciences
Funding: Work of Rafael Prikladnicki is partially funded by CNpq and FAPERGS (process 17/2551-0001205-4).
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