Feedback in the software evolution process
Despite major advances in programming methodology, industry still faces major problems in developing and maintaining E-type software — software that implements computer applications in the real world. The paper suggests that a possible constraint on software process improvement arises from the fact that the global software process that includes technical, business, marketing, user and other activities constitutes a multi-loop, multi-level feedback system. To change the characteristics of such a system requires one to consider, design or adapt and tune both forward and feedback paths to achieve the desired changes in externally visible behaviour. It should, therefore, not come as a surprise that the overall improvements achieved fall far below expectations. After all, current world-wide process models and improvement activities focus primarily on the forward technical path and overlook the many feedback paths and the constraints that they impose on improvement of the project. A recently launched project, FEAST, based on a hypothesis by the same name, will investigate these observations and their consequences on the basis of an international collaborative investigation.