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Boundary Objects and their Use in Agile Systems Engineering Organizations

Journal article
Authors Rebekka Wohlrab
Patrizio Pelliccione
Eric Knauss
Mats Larsson
Published in Journal of Software: Evolution and Process
Volume 31
Issue 5
Publication year 2019
Published at Institutionen för data- och informationsteknik, Software Engineering (GU)
Language en
Keywords agile systems engineering, documentation, design science, boundary objects
Subject categories Software Engineering


Agile methods are increasingly introduced in automotive companies in the attempt to become more efficient and flexible in the system development. The adoption of agile practices influences communication between stakeholders, but also makes companies rethink the management of artifacts and documentation like requirements, safety compliance documents, and architecture models. Practitioners aim to reduce irrelevant documentation, but face a lack of guidance to determine what artifacts are needed and how they should be managed. This paper presents artifacts, challenges, guidelines, and practices for the continuous management of systems engineering artifacts in automotive based on a theoretical and empirical understanding of the topic. In collaboration with 53 practitioners from six automotive companies, we conducted a design-science study involving interviews, a questionnaire, focus groups, and practical data analysis of a systems engineering tool. The guidelines suggest the distinction between artifacts that are shared among different actors in a company (boundary objects) and those that are used within a team (locally relevant artifacts). We propose an analysis approach to identify boundary objects and three practices to manage systems engineering artifacts in industry.

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