University of Oulu

Miikka Kuutila, Mika Mäntylä, Umar Farooq, Maëlick Claes, Time pressure in software engineering: A systematic review, Information and Software Technology, Volume 121, 2020, 106257, ISSN 0950-5849,

Time pressure in software engineering : a systematic review

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Author: Kuutila, Miikka1; Mäntylä, Mika1; Farooq, Umar1;
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, M3S, Pentti Kaiteran katu 1, 90014 Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.4 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2020
Publish Date: 2022-01-18


Context: Large project overruns and overtime work have been reported in the software industry, resulting in additional expense for companies and personal issues for developers. Experiments and case studies have investigated the relationship between time pressure and software quality and productivity.

Objective: The present work aims to provide an overview of studies related to time pressure in software engineering; specifically, existing definitions, possible causes, and metrics relevant to time pressure were collected, and a mapping of the studies to software processes and approaches was performed. Moreover, we synthesize results of existing quantitative studies on the effects of time pressure on software development, and offer practical takeaways for practitioners and researchers, based on empirical evidence.

Method: Our search strategy examined 5414 sources, found through repository searches and snowballing. Applying inclusion and exclusion criteria resulted in the selection of 102 papers, which made relevant contributions related to time pressure in software engineering.

Results: The majority of high quality studies report increased productivity and decreased quality under time pressure. The most frequent categories of studies focus on quality assurance, cost estimation, and process simulation. It appears that time pressure is usually caused by errors in cost estimation. The effect of time pressure is most often identified during software quality assurance.

Conclusions: The majority of empirical studies report increased productivity under time pressure, while the most cost estimation and process simulation models assume that compressing the schedule increases the total needed hours. We also find evidence of the mediating effect of knowledge on the effects of time pressure, and that tight deadlines impact tasks with an algorithmic nature more severely. Future research should better contextualize quantitative studies to account for the existing conflicting results and to provide an understanding of situations when time pressure is either beneficial or harmful.

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Series: Information and software technology
ISSN: 0950-5849
ISSN-E: 1873-6025
ISSN-L: 0950-5849
Volume: 121
Article number: 106257
DOI: 10.1016/j.infsof.2020.106257
Type of Publication: A2 Review article in a scientific journal
Field of Science: 113 Computer and information sciences
Funding: This work has been supported by Academy of Finland grant 298020. The first author has been supported by Kaute-foundation.
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 298020
Detailed Information: 298020 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2020 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license