I. Groher, R. Weinreich: A Study on Architectural Decision-Making in Context, 12th Working IEEE/IFIP Conference on Software Architecture (WICSA 2015), pp. 11-20, Montreal, Canada, May 4-8, 2015, doi: 10.1109/WICSA.2015.27


Design decisions are made throughout the design process of a new software system or the evolution of an existing system. The context in which a system is developed influences these decisions themselves and the way they are made. There are only a few empirical studies regarding architectural decision-making or concerning how the decision-making process is executed. In this paper, we report an analysis of expert interviews regarding architectural decision-making to gain insight into how decision-making is organized in different organizational contexts. We base our analysis on interviews conducted in a previous study, where we talked to 25 software architects, team leads, and senior developers from 22 different companies in ten different countries about architectural decision-making and documentation. In this paper, we specifically analyze the interview transcripts with regard to the decision-making process. We identified eight different categories of main factors influencing how, when, and by whom decisions are made. We also present decision-making scenarios and relate them to the discovered influence factors. Results show that, apart from organizational factors, individual factors and cultural factors seem to have about the same influence as business and project factors. Company size and domain do not influence the decision-making process as much as one might expect.