Software Quality Journal

, Volume 23, Issue 4, pp 539–566 | Cite as

Handover of managerial responsibilities in global software development: a case study of source code evolution and quality

  • Ronald Jabangwe
  • Jürgen Börstler
  • Kai PetersenEmail author


Studies report on the negative effect on quality in global software development (GSD) due to communication and coordination-related challenges. However, empirical studies reporting on the magnitude of the effect are scarce. This paper presents findings from an embedded explanatory case study on the change in quality over time, across multiple releases, for products that were developed in a GSD setting. The GSD setting involved periods of distributed development between geographically dispersed sites as well as a handover of project management responsibilities between the involved sites. Investigations were performed on two medium-sized products from a company that is part of a large multinational corporation. Quality is investigated quantitatively using defect data and measures that quantify two source code properties, size and complexity. Observations were triangulated with subjective views from company representatives. There were no observable indications that the distribution of work or handover of project management responsibilities had an impact on quality on both products. Among the product-, process- and people-related success factors, we identified well-designed product architectures, early handover planning and support from the sending site to the receiving site after the handover and skilled employees at the involved sites. Overall, these results can be useful input for decision-makers who are considering distributing development work between globally dispersed sites or handing over project management responsibilities from one site to another. Moreover, our study shows that analyzing the evolution of size and complexity properties of a product’s source code can provide valuable information to support decision-making during similar projects. Finally, the strategy used by the company to relocate responsibilities can also be considered as an alternative for software transfers, which have been linked with a decline in efficiency, productivity and quality.


Global software development Distributed development  Source code analysis Software transfers Object-oriented measures Case study 



This work was funded by the Swedish Knowledge Foundation under the research grant 2009/0249. We thank Professor Claes Wohlin and Dr. Darja Šmite, at Software Engineering Research Lab (SERL), for their valuable comments on the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ronald Jabangwe
    • 1
  • Jürgen Börstler
    • 1
  • Kai Petersen
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Blekinge Institute of TechnologyKarlskronaSweden

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