05. – 08. März 2017, Dagstuhl-Seminar 17102

Rethinking Productivity in Software Engineering


Thomas Fritz (Universität Zürich, CH)
Gloria Mark (University of California – Irvine, US)
Gail C. Murphy (University of British Columbia – Vancouver, CA)
Thomas Zimmermann (Microsoft Corporation – Redmond, US)

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There is an ever-growing demand of software being built and a shortage of software developers to satisfy this demand, despite the immense growth in the number of professional software developers. To address this demand, industry and research are looking into understanding and improving the productivity of individual software developers as well as teams. A substantial amount of research has examined the meaning of software productivity over the past four decades. Much of this research introduces particular definitions of productivity, considers organizational issues associated with productivity, or is focused on specific tools and approaches for improving productivity. In fact, many of the seminal work on software productivity is from the 80s and 90s (Peopleware, Mythical Man-Month, Personal Software Process).

At the same time, software development has changed significantly over the past decades with the rise of agile development, distributed development, more rapid release cycles and the high fragmentation of today’s work. Simultaneously the technology available to software engineers has improved with social coding tools like GitHub and StackOverflow and better IDEs. Furthermore, research communities, in particular the HCI and CSCW communities, have made significant advances in supporting knowledge workers to become more productive that one might be able to also transfer to software engineers.

The goal of this seminar was to rethink, discuss, and address open issues of productivity in software development and how to measure and foster productive behavior of software developers. Specifically, we focused on the following questions:

  • What does productivity mean for an individual and teams/organizations and how is it measured?
  • What are the dimensions and factors of productivity?
  • What are the purposes and implications of measuring productivity?
  • What are the grand challenges in research on productivity?
Summary text license
  Creative Commons BY 3.0 Unported license
  Thomas Fritz, Gloria Mark, Gail C. Murphy, and Thomas Zimmermann


  • Society / Human-computer Interaction
  • Software Engineering


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