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3 October 2013

Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd: A Case Study of Crowdsourcing Software Development

Location: Meeting Room1, Ground Floor, JLB
Time: 12:30pm - 13:45pm
Speaker(s): Brian Fitzgerald - University of Limerick (UL), Ireland

Crowdsourcing is an emerging and promising approach which involves delegating a variety of tasks to an unknown workforce—a crowd. Crowdsourcing has been applied quite successfully in various contexts – from basic tasks on Amazon Mechanical Turk to solving complex industry problems, e.g. Innocentive. Companies are increasingly using crowdsourcing to accomplish specific software devel­opment tasks. However, very little research exists on this specific topic. Our case study highlights on a number of challenges that arise when crowdsourcing software development. For example, the crowdsourcing development process is essentially a waterfall and this has to be eventually integrated with the agile approach used by the company. Crowdsourcing works better for specific software development tasks – those that do not have complex interdependencies. The development cost was much greater than originally expected, overhead in terms of company effort to prepare specifications and answer crowdsourcing community queries was much greater, and the time-scale to complete contests, review submissions and resolve quality issues was significant. Finally, quality issues were pushed later in the lifecycle given the lengthy process necessary to identify quality issues and have them resolved by the community. Given the emphasis in software engineering on identifying bugs as early as possible, this is quite problematic. Brian Fitzgerald Bio Brian Fitzgerald holds an endowed professorship, the Krehbiel Chair in Innovation in Business & Technology, at the University of Limerick (UL), Ireland. Other positions he has held at UL include: 2008-2011 Vice President Research. 2006-2008 Founding Director of the Lero Graduate School in Software Engineering. 2005- Principal Investigator in Lero - the Irish Software Engineering Research Centre He has also held visiting positions in Italy, Austria, Sweden, US and UK. He holds a PhD from the University of London and his research interests lie primarily in software development, encompassing development methods, global software development, agile methods and open source software. 

His publications include 13 books, and over 130 peer-reviewed articles in the leading international journals in both the Information Systems and Software Engineering fields, including IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering (TSE), ACM Transactions on Software Engineering Methodology (TOSEM), Information Systems Research (ISR) and MIS Quarterly (MISQ). 

 Prior to taking up an academic position, he worked in the software industry for about 12 years, in a variety of sectors (including finance, telecommunications, manufacturing, software house) in a number of countries (Ireland, Belgium, Germany). 

 He has been very successful in winning competitive research grants from a variety of funding agencies, including EU, Science Foundation Ireland and Enterprise Ireland. Overall, these projects have received total funding of €60 million, with almost €10 million received directly as Principal Investigator (PI).

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Contact: mailto:h.c.sharp@open.ac.uk