An Empirical Study on Collaborative Architecture Decision Making in Software Teams

  • Sandun Dasanayake
  • Jouni Markkula
  • Sanja Aaramaa
  • Markku Oivo
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 9839)


Architecture decision making is considered one of the most challenging cognitive tasks in software development. The objective of this study is to explore the state of the practice of architecture decision making in software teams, including the role of the architect and the associated challenges. An exploratory case study was conducted in a large software company in Europe and fifteen software architects were interviewed as the primary method of data collection. The results reveal that the majority of software teams make architecture decisions collaboratively. Especially, the consultative decision-making style is preferred as it helps to make decisions efficiently while taking the opinions of the team members into consideration. It is observed that most of the software architects maintain a close relationship with the software teams. Several organisational, process and human related challenges and their impact on architecture decision-making are also identified.


Software architecture Group decision making Software teams 



This research is funded by ITEA2 and Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation, via the MERgE project, which we gratefully acknowledge. We would also like to thank all the interviewees and the management of the case company.


  1. 1.
    Taylor, R.N., Medvidovic, N., Dashofy, E.M.: Software Architecture: Foundations, Theory, and Practice. Wiley, Hoboken (2010)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bass, L., Clements, P., Kazman, R.: Software Architecture in Practice. Addison-Wesley Professional, Reading (2012)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Clements, P.: A survey of architecture description languages. In: Proceedings of 8th International Workshop on Software Specification and Design, pp. 16–25 (1996)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Jansen, A., Bosch, J.: Software architecture as a set of architectural design decisions. In: 5th Working IEEE/IFIP Conference on Software Architecture (WICSA 2005). pp. 109–120 (2005)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Kruchten, P.: Software architecture and agile software development: a clash of two cultures? In: 2010 ACM/IEEE 32nd International Conference Software Engineering, vol. 2, pp. 497–498 (2010)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Shore, J.: Continuous design. IEEE Softw. 21, 20–22 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Abrahamsson, P., Ali Babar, M., Kruchten, P.: Agility and architecture: can they coexist? IEEE Softw. 27, 16–22 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Tofan, D., Galster, M., Avgeriou, P.: Difficulty of architectural decisions – a survey with professional architects. In: Drira, K. (ed.) ECSA 2013. LNCS, vol. 7957, pp. 192–199. Springer, Heidelberg (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Rekhav, V.S., Muccini, H.: A study on group decision-making in software architecture. In: 2014 IEEE/IFIP Conference on Software Architecture, pp. 185–194 (2014)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Tofan, D., Galster, M., Lytra, I., Avgeriou, P., Zdun, U., Fouche, M.-A., de Boer, R., Solms, F.: Empirical evaluation of a process to increase consensus in group architectural decision making. Inf. Softw. Technol. 72, 31–47 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Rekha V.S., Muccini, H.: Suitability of software architecture decision making methods for group decisions. In: Avgeriou, P., Zdun, U. (eds.) ECSA 2014. LNCS, vol. 8627, pp. 17–32. Springer, Heidelberg (2014)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Beebe, S.A., Masterson, J.T.: Communication in Small Groups: Principles and Practice. Pearson Education Inc., New York (2009)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Hersey, P., Blanchard, K.H., Johnson, D.E.: Management of Organizational Behavior. Pearson, New York (2012)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Tannenbaum, R., Schmidt, W.H.: How to choose a leadership pattern. Harv. Bus. Rev. 36, 95–101 (1958)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Stewart, L.P., Gudykunst, W.B., Ting-Toomey, S., Nishida, T.: The effects of decision-making style on openness and satisfaction within Japanese organizations. Commun. Monogr. 53, 236–251 (1986)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Schachter, S., Singer, J.E.: Assets and liabilities in group problem solving: the need for an integrative function. Psychol. Rev. 74, 239–249 (1967)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Janis, I.L.: Groupthink: Psychological Studies of Policy Decisions and Fiascoes. Cengage Learning, Boston (1982)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Eisenhardt, K.M.: Building theories from case study research. Acad. Manag. Rev. 14, 532–550 (1989)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Fantino, E., Stolarz-Fantino, S.: Decision-making: context matters. Behav. Process. 69, 165–171 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Dasanayake, S., Markkula, J., Aaramaa, S., Oivo, M.: Software architecture decision-making practices and challenges: an industrial case study. In: Proceedings of 24th Australasian Software Engineering Conference (2015)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sandun Dasanayake
    • 1
  • Jouni Markkula
    • 1
  • Sanja Aaramaa
    • 1
  • Markku Oivo
    • 1
  1. 1.M3S, Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical EngineeringUniversity of OuluOuluFinland

Personalised recommendations