New Software Required? The Product Software Overhaul Framework - A Multiple Case Study Of Software Company Experiences
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The software industry is booming. Valued at 299 billion USD in 2013 and having a growth rate of about three up to four percent per year, it is one of the most rapidly growing sectors in ICT. Within the flourishing software industry, one type of software became increasingly popular during the past decade, namely product software. Product software is highly standardized software that is developed for and traded in a specific market. Product software companies nowadays face the challenge of a constantly evolving industry, where technology and platforms are emerging rapidly. In order to stay competitive in the market and to respond to the technological changes, product software companies are continuously concerned with the improvement and renewal of their products. A major part of such a renewal is the software product overhaul process. Companies are facing a complete overhaul of their product every once in a while. In this context, they are either concerned with a fundamental change of their product or the migration of their product towards a new technological environment. Such product overhaul processes are complex, challenging and time-consuming, however research that embeds this phenomenon within practical contexts is scarce. Thus, the aim of this thesis is to investigate the software product overhaul process from an industrial point of view in order to define its major characteristics. A systematic literature review is conducted first in order to provide an overview of state-of-the-art literature. A multiple case study approach is then chosen to explore the phenomenon in its natural settings. Eight product software companies particpate in the multiple case study, whereas data is collected by means of semi-structured interviews on the one hand, an analysis of documents on the other hand. The multiple case study reveals that there are different types of an overhaul such as the migration towards a new technological environment or the redevelopment of parts of the product such as the user interface. The overhaul process is mostly triggered by technological, organizational and market-related aspects. Furthermore, companies can approach this process in different manners. The right choice of such a strategy is essential, as the project success often depends on the strategy that was chosen. The software product overhaul process generally appears to be highly complex, related to large investments and tremendous delay. There are manifold challenges to overcome for software companies before, during and after the product overhaul. To support this process in software companies, the present thesis contributes several models. A process deliverable diagram introduces the most important phases and steps that an overhaul consists of. Several challenges-countermeasures models help to approach the major challenges of such a process. Finally, the product software overhaul framework provides an elaborate overview of what a software product overhaul is affected by.