Observe-mine-adopt (OMA): An agile way to enhance software maintainability

Jane Huffman Hayes, Naresh Mohamed, Tina Hong Gao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


We introduce the observe-mine-adopt (OMA) paradigm that assists organizations in making improvements to their software development processes without committing to and undertaking large-scale sweeping organizational process improvement. Specifically, the approach has been applied to improve software practices focused on maintainability. This novel approach is based on the theory that software teams naturally make observations about things that do or do not work well. Teams then mine their artifacts and their recollections of events to find the software products, processes, metrics, etc. that led to the observation. In the case of software maintainability, it is then necessary to perform some measurement to ensure that the methods result in improved maintainability. We introduce two maintainability measures, maintainability product and perceived maintainability, to address this need. Other maintainability measures that may be used in the mine step are also examined. Finally, if the mining activities lead to validated discoveries of processes, techniques or practices that improve the software product, they are formalized and adopted by the team. OMA has been studied experimentally using two project studies and a Web-based health care system which is maintained by a large industrial software organization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-323
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Software Maintenance and Evolution
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2003


  • Agile methods
  • Experimental study
  • Maintainability measurement
  • Process improvement
  • Software maintainability
  • Software maintenance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software


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