An economic model to estimate software rewriting and replacement times

Taizan Chan, Siu Leung Chung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


The effort required to service maintenance requests on a software system increases as the software system ages and deteriorates. Thus, it may be economical to replace an aged software system with a freshly written one to contain the escalating cost of maintenance. We develop a normative model of software maintenance and replacement effort that enables us to study the optimal policies for software replacement. Based on both analytical and simulation solutions, we determine the timings of software rewriting and replacement, and hence the schedule of rewriting, as well as the size of the rewriting team as functions of the 1 ) user environment, 2) effectiveness of rewriting, 3) technology platform, 4) development quaiity, 5) software familiarity, and 6) maintenance quality of the existing and the new software systems. Among other things, we show that a volatile user environment often leads to a delayed rewriting and an early replacement (i.e., a compressed development schedule). On the other hand, a greater familiarity with either the existing or the new software system allows for a less-compressed development schedule. In addition, we also show that potential savings from rewriting will be higher if the new software system is developed with a superior technology platform, if programmers' familiarity with the new software system is greater, and if the software system is rewritten with a higher initial quality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)580-598
Number of pages19
JournalIEEE Transactions on Software Engineering
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1996


  • Economic modeling
  • Optimization
  • Project management
  • Software maintenanceysoftware replacement


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