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Different approaches and tools have been proposed to support change impact analysis, i.e., the identification of the potential consequences of a change, or the estimation of what needs to be modified to accomplish a change. However, just a few empirical studies of software developers' actual change impact analysis approaches have been reported in the literature. To minimize this gap, this paper describes an empirical study of two software development teams. It describes, through the presentation of ethnographic data, the strategies used by software developers to handle the effect of software dependencies and changes in their work. The concept of impact management is proposed as an analytical framework to present these practices and is used to suggest avenues for future research in change impact analysis techniques.
Date of Conference: 10-18 May 2008