Software Engineers in Transition: Self-Role Attribution and Awareness for Sustainability

Betz, Stefanie
Lammert, Dominic
Porras, Jari
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Context: The Software Engineering process can be seen as a socio-technical activity that involves fulfilling one's role as part of a team. Accordingly, software products and services are the result of a specific collaboration between employees (and other stakeholders). In recent years, sustainability, which Requirements Engineers often paraphrase as the ability of a system to endure, is becoming part of the process and thus the responsibility of Software Engineers (SE) as well. Objectives: This study shines the spotlight on the role of the SE: their self-attribution and their awareness for sustainability. We interviewed 13 SEs to figure out how they perceive their own role and to which extent they implement the topic of sustainability in their daily work. By visualizing these two sides, it is possible to debate changes and their possible paths to benefit the Software Engineering process including sustainability design. Results: A discrepancy between the current role and the ideal role of SEs becomes visible. It is characterized in particular by dwelling on their “classic” or time-honored tasks as an executive force, such as coding. At the same time, they point out the still missing necessity of an interdisciplinary, from communication coined working method. According to our interviewees SEs are inefficiently involved in the design process. They do not sufficiently assume their responsibility for the software and its sustainability impacts.
Software Sustainability: Strategies for Long-Lasting and Usable Research Software, role understanding, software engineering, sustainability design
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