Practitioners’ Perspectives on Change Impact Analysis for Safety-Critical Software – A Preliminary Analysis

  • Markus Borg
  • Jose Luis de la Vara
  • Krzysztof Wnuk
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 9923)


Safety standards prescribe change impact analysis (CIA) during evolution of safety-critical software systems. Although CIA is a fundamental activity, there is a lack of empirical studies about how it is performed in practice. We present a case study on CIA in the context of an evolving automation system, based on 14 interviews in Sweden and India. Our analysis suggests that engineers on average spend 50–100 h on CIA per year, but the effort varies considerably with the phases of projects. Also, the respondents presented different connotations to CIA and perceived the importance of CIA differently. We report the most pressing CIA challenges, and several ideas on how to support future CIA. However, we show that measuring the effect of such improvement solutions is non-trivial, as CIA is intertwined with other development activities. While this paper only reports preliminary results, our work contributes empirical insights into practical CIA.


Change impact analysis Safety-critical systems Case study research 



The work is partially supported by a research grant for the ORION project (ref. number 20140218) from The Knowledge Foundation in Sweden.


  1. 1.
    Bjarnason, E., et al.: Challenges and practices in aligning requirements with verification and validation: a case study of six companies. Empir. Softw. Eng. 19(6), 1809–1855 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bohner, S., Arnold, R.: Software Change Impact Analysis. IEEE Press, Washington (1996)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Borg, M., Gotel, O., Wnuk, K.: Enabling traceability reuse for impact analyses: a feasibility study in a safety context. In: Proceedings of 7th International Workshop on Traceability in Emerging Forms of Software Engineering, pp. 72–79 (2013)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Borg, M., Runeson, P.: Changes, evolution, and bugs - recommendation systems for issue management. In: Robillard, M.P., et al. (eds.) Recommendation Systems in Software Engineering, pp. 477–509. Springer, Berlin (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Borg, M., et al.: A replicated study on duplicate detection: using apache lucene to search among android defects. In: Proceedings of 8th International Symposium on Empirical Software Engineering and Measurement (2014)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Cicchetti, A., et al.: Towards software assets origin selection supported by a knowledge repository. In: Proceedings of 1st International Workshop on Decision Making in Software Architecture (2016)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    de la Vara, JL., et al.: An industrial survey of safety evidence change impact analysis practice. Trans. Softw. Eng. (2016, to appear)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Klevin, A.: People, process and tools: a study of impact analysis in a change process. Master thesis, Lund University (2012).
  9. 9.
    Lehnert, S.: A review of software change impact analysis. Technical report, Ilmenau University of Technology (2011)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Leveson, N.: Engineering a Safer World. The MIT Press, Cambridge (2011)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Li, B., et al.: A survey of code-based change impact analysis techniques. Softw. Test. Verif. Reliab. 23(8), 613–646 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Nair, S., et al.: Evidence management for compliance of critical systems with safety standards: a survey on the state of practice. Inf. Softw. Technol. 60, 1–15 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Regan, G., et al.: Investigation of traceability within a medical device organization. In: Proceedings of 13th International Conference on Process Improvement and Capability Determination, pp. 211–222 (2013)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Rovegård, P., Angelis, L., Wohlin, C.: An empirical study on views of importance of change impact analysis issues. IEEE Trans. Softw. Eng. 34(4), 516–530 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Runeson, P., et al.: Case Study Research in Software Engineering. Wiley, New York (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Strauss, A., Corbin, J.: Basics of Qualitative Research Techniques and Procedures for Developing Grounded Theory, 2nd edn. Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks (1998)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Markus Borg
    • 1
  • Jose Luis de la Vara
    • 2
  • Krzysztof Wnuk
    • 3
  1. 1.SICS Swedish ICT ABLundSweden
  2. 2.Carlos III University of MadridMadridSpain
  3. 3.Blekinge Institute of TechnologyKarlskronaSweden

Personalised recommendations