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In any IT-intensive organization, it is useful to have a model to associate a value with software and system architecture decisions. More generally, any effort-a project undertaken by a team-needs to have an associated value to offset its labor and capital costs. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to precisely evaluate the benefit of "architecture projects"-those that aim to improve one or more quality attributes of a system via a structural transformation without (generally) changing its behavior. We often resort to anecdotal and informal "hand-waving" arguments of risk reduction or increased developer productivity. These arguments are typically unsatisfying to the management of organizations accustomed to decision-making based on concrete metrics. This paper will discuss research done to address this long-standing dilemma. Specifically, we will present a model derived from analyzing actual projects undertaken at Vistaprint Corporation. The model presented is derived from an analysis of effort tracked against modifications to specific software components before and after a significant architectural transformation to the subsystem housing those components. In this paper, we will discuss the development, implementation, and iteration of the model and the results that we have obtained.
Software Engineering, 2010 ACM/IEEE 32nd International Conference on (Volume:2 )
Date of Conference: 2-8 May 2010