Investigating challenges to software maintenance in small organizations: a grounded theoretical approach


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Towson University. Department of Computer and Information Sciences


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Software Maintenance constitutes a critical function that enables organizations to continually leverage their information technology (IT) capabilities. Despite the growing importance of small organizations, a majority of the existing software maintenance guidelines are geared toward large organizations. To investigate the challenges and critical success factors in small organizations' software maintenance projects, Grounded Theory Method and case study method are used to conduct an empirical investigation. Results from this investigation indicate a shortage of resources at the disposal of small organizations. Such shortage leads to a misalignment of existing software maintenance processes to the needs of a small organization. It is learned that software maintenance in small organizations gets achieved through heuristics undertaken by key actors of the organization. A taxonomy of key actors is provided and explicit details of heuristic development from individual's usage to organizational adoption are provided. Also presented are political processes that are utilized in small organizations to achieve software maintenance success which relies on the important functions of communication, collaboration and coordination. The two main contributions of this dissertation are: (i) it provides unique insights in the inner workings of small organizations' software maintenance projects; and, (ii) it presents key elements of software maintenance projects found in small organizations.