Assets in Software Engineering: What are they after all?

Ehsan Zabardast, Julian Frattini, Javier Gonzalez-Huerta, Daniel Mendez, Tony Gorschek und Krzysztof Wnuk

Journal of Systems and Software,



During the development and maintenance of software-intensive products or services, we depend on various artefacts. Some of those artefacts, we deem central to the feasibility of a project and the product's final quality. Typically, these central artefacts are referred to as assets. However, despite their central role in the software development process, little thought is yet invested into what eventually characterises as an asset, often resulting in many terms and underlying concepts being mixed and used inconsistently. A precise terminology of assets and related concepts, such as asset degradation, are crucial for setting up a new generation of cost-effective software engineering practices. In this position paper, we critically reflect upon the notion of assets in software engineering. As a starting point, we define the terminology and concepts of assets and extend the reasoning behind them. We explore assets' characteristics and discuss what asset degradation is as well as its various types and the implications that asset degradation might bring for the planning, realisation, and evolution of software-intensive products and services over time. We aspire to contribute to a more standardised definition of assets in software engineering and foster research endeavours and their practical dissemination in a common, more unified direction.