University of Oulu

The impacts of automating manual processes in software maintenance

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Author: Kemppainen, Sanna1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, Department of Information Processing Science, Information Processing Science
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.2 MB)
Pages: 69
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : S. Kemppainen, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-06-15
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Halonen, Raija
Mononen, Jukka
Reviewer: Halonen, Raija


The purpose of this study was to find out how automating a software maintenance task affects the software developers and end users of the information system. The study was conducted as a case study in a Finnish IT organization that provides information systems for organizations.

This study focused on software maintenance tasks that are done in the production environments. The main research question was “How has the new automated process affected the stakeholders in the case?” In order to address the research question, the stakeholder groups had to be identified. Two stakeholder groups were defined and two supporting questions were formulated in order to find answers to the main question. The two supporting questions are “How do the software developers experience the changes that took place after automation?” and “How do the customers experience the changes that took place after automation?”

The study utilised triangulation, combining qualitative and quantitative research methods. Qualitative data was collected with interviews and a questionnaire, and quantitative analysis was conducted to the maintenance request tickets with an MMG (Maintenance Model Graph) analysis. The findings of the quantitative MMG analysis were used to support the results found with qualitative methods.

Automating a repetitive maintenance task was found to affect especially the software developers, who experienced the manual task to be time-consuming and arduous. Based on the developer interviews, four factors were found to have been affected by the automation: (1) degree of difficulty, (2) overall workload, (3) incoming maintenance requests and (4) future development.

Customers were affected by the automation indirectly. The new solution was found to provide them with more accurate data and enhanced documentation, but it was also experienced to be arduous to familiarize with. Overall the results from customer questionnaire pointed out that the new solution was experienced as an upgrade. The familiarization will be handled in the case organization by providing training sessions directly to the customer organizations.

The contribution of this study is the additional knowledge it provided about automating the repetitive tasks of software maintenance. As software maintenance is a very expensive part of the SW life cycle, it is beneficial to consider automating some of the most frequent tasks.

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Copyright information: © Sanna Kemppainen, 2020. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.