A transfer of a software system from a party responsible for its development to a party responsible for its maintenance is referred to as software system handover or transition. It does not only include a transfer of a software system or system part, but also a transfer of all the knowledge, experience and responsibilities that are required for managing the system during a software system lifecycle. It is a complex process overarching many different processes such as development, testing, version and configuration management, deployment, and maintenance, just to mention a few.
Handover is a critical process in the software lifecycle and it is important that it is performed as smoothly as possible. It can become very expensive and protracted if the organizations are not well prepared for performing it. The productivity of the groups taking over the system and the quality of their outputs may be strongly dependent on how handover is performed. Overall, failing to transfer software systems may lead to loss of productivity, loss of maintainer credibility, loss of system and maintenance process quality, and sometimes, even loss of business. Therefore, a good handover process model is imperative and critical for planning for and managing transition and for alleviating many transition problems.
Regrettably, the issue of the software handover is still a strongly under-researched and neglected domain. There still do not exist any up-to date handover process models that designate important features of a handover process. So far, the research community has not paid much attention to this particular process domain. The published handover process models are either too old or they deal with handover on a very general level.
In this thesis, we suggest a framework for software system handover that provides a basis for creating handover process models. The framework is called EM3: Handover Framework and it is part of Evolution and Maintenance Management Model (EM3). The framework comprises six major parts: taxonomy of handover activities, handover contexts, handover types, handover roles, handover lifecycle roadmap, and handover guidelines. These parts may be combined in different ways for creating handover process models for specific handover contexts.
The research method used was of qualitative character including explorative case studies and participatory studies. It is based on data collected within 61 companies during which the theory about the handover process domain was explored, evolved and evaluated. The primary research tools used were semi-structured interviews and observation.
EM3: Handover Framework guides organizations in implementing their handover processes and in identifying problems and challenges they may face before, during and after the handover. Organizations can use it to conduct their own handover processes and researchers can further evaluate it in other industrial contexts, extend it, and/or use it for suggesting their own handover process models.
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2013. , 150 p.
2013-06-04, Sal D, Forum 100, Isafjordsgatan 39, Kista, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)