Factors Leading to Integration Failures in Global Feature-Oriented Development: An Empirical Analysis

Marcelo Cataldo and James D. Herbsleb
Carnegie Mellon University, USA
Empirical Luau I

Feature-driven software development is a novel approach that has grown in popularity over the past decade. Researchers and practitioners alike have argued that numerous benefits could be garnered from adopting a feature-driven development approach. However, those persuasive arguments have not been matched with supporting empirical evidence. Moreover, developing software systems around features involves new technical and organizational elements that could have significant implications for outcomes such as software quality. This paper presents an empirical analysis of a large-scale project that implemented 1195 features in a software system. We examined the impact that technical attributes of product features, attributes of the feature teams and crossfeature interactions have on software integration failures. Our results show that technical factors such as the nature of component dependencies and organizational factors such as the geographic dispersion of the feature teams and the role of the feature owners had complementary impact suggesting their independent and important role in terms of software quality. Furthermore, our analyses revealed that cross-feature interactions, measured as the number of architectural dependencies between two product features, are a major driver of integration failures. The research and practical implications of our results are discussed.