Parallel changes in large-scale software development: An observational case study

Dewayne E. Perry, Harvey P. Siy, Lawrence G. Votta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


An essential characteristic of large-scale software development is parallel development by teams of developers. How this parallel development is structured and supported has a profound effect on both the quality and timeliness of the product. We conduct an observational case study in which we collect and analyze the change and configuration management history of a legacy system to delineate the boundaries of, and to understand the nature of, the problems encountered in parallel development. The results of our studies are (1) that the degree of parallelism is very high - higher than considered by tool builders; (2) there are multiple levels of parallelism, and the data for some important aspects are uniform and consistent for all levels; (3) the tails of the distributions are long, indicating the tail, rather than the mean, must receive serious attention in providing solutions for these problems; and (4) there is a significant correlation between the degree of parallel work on a given component and the number of quality problems it has. Thus, the results of this study are important both for tool builders and for process and project engineers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)308-337
Number of pages30
JournalACM Transactions on Software Engineering and Methodology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • D.2.7 [Software Engineering]: Distribution, Maintenance, and Enhancement - Version control
  • D.2.8 [Software Engineering]: Metrics - Process metrics
  • D.2.9 [Software Engineering]: Management - Programming teams
  • Software configuration management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software


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