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Making Software by Greg Wilson, Andy Oram

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Conclusions

The evidence provided across 40 years of data on the degree of increase in software cost-to-fix versus delay-of-fix is that for large projects, the increase from fixing requirements changes and defects during requirements definition to fixing them once the product is fielded continues to be around 100:1. However, this ratio can be significantly reduced by higher investments in early requirements and architecture verification and validation. As shown by the CCPDS-R project data in Figure 10-6, the ratio can approach 1:1 if the high-risk fixes are addressed early.

The evidence for small projects continues to show ratios around 5:1, but these can also be flattened by the use of outstanding personnel and by Agile methods, such as pair programming and continuous integration, that shorten the delay-of-fix time. Small, noncritical projects can also spread their architecting activity across the life cycle via refactoring, but need to watch out for making easiest-first architectural commitments that cannot be easily undone by refactoring, such as committing to unscalable COTS products or security-incompatible data and control structures.

The evidence provided more recently on the payoff of architecting and risk resolution efforts, such as those on CCPDS-R, is that the location of the highest-payoff “how much architecting is enough” sweet spot is a function of project size and criticality (larger, more critical projects require more architecting investment), but also a function ...

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