Evaluating Software Reuse Alternatives:
A Model and Its Application to
an Industrial Case Study
Amir Tomer, Member, IEEE, Leah Goldin, Senior Member, IEEE, Tsvi Kuflik, Member, IEEE,
Esther Kimchi, and Stephen R. Schach, Member, IEEE Computer Society
Abstract—We propose a model that enables software developers to systematically evaluate and compare all possible alternative
reuse scenarios. The model supports the clear identification of the basic operations involved and associates a cost component with
each basic operation in a focused and precise way. The model is a practical tool that assists developers to weigh and evaluate different
reuse scenarios, based on accumulated organizational data, and then to decide which option to select in a given situation. The model
is currently being used at six different companies for cost-benefit analysis of alternative reuse scenarios; we give a case study that
illustrates how it has been used in practice.
Index Terms—Reuse models, cost estimation, maintenance management, software libraries, process metrics, process measurement,
OFTWARE reuse is a major component of many software
productivity improvement efforts because reuse can
result in higher quality software at a lower cost and
delivered within a shorter time . One of the critical reuse
success factors is the adoption of the product-line approach
of Boehm . This approach is detailed in , which
describes a product line organized to operate in two circles:
core-asset development and product development. Core
assets are software artifacts that are developed or acquired
(during operation of the first circle), are owned by the
product line, and are available for acquisition as building
blocks for specific products. However, it is at the discretion
of product developers, performing in the other circle, to
decide whether to acquire (buy)coreassetsfromthe
product-line repository or develop their software artifacts
from scratch (make). This decision is critical, not only for
each specific product, but also for the entire product line
because the central activity of core-asset development is
driven by the needs of specific products, both present and
future. In order to evaluate the alternatives correctly, these
make/buy decisions should be based on data collected from
past reuse and development efforts and on estimation of
future activities. On the other hand, it is not trivial to
measure all reuse activities precisely because reuse can be
performed both centrally and individually for specific
products. Moreover, artifacts can be transferred from one
product to another, as part of opportunistic reuse efforts,
and control is lost over both the configuration and the cost.
In this paper, we propose a model by which reuse
activities in product lines may be systematically measured
or estimated and alternative reuse scenarios may be
evaluated and compared for effective support of the
make/buy process. In Section 2, we give background
material on software reuse and software reuse cost models.
In Section 3, we describe and demonstrate, in a case study,
our conceptual model of reuse operations and scenarios. In
Section 4, we add cost elements to the model and address
typical reuse scenarios and their costs. In Section 5, we
describe how the model is being used in practice and
present an industrial case study. Section 6 presents
conclusions and future work.
2.1 Reuse Concepts
Reuse takes place when an existing artifact is utilized to
facilitate the development or maintenance of the target
product. The scope of reuse can vary from the narrowest
possible range, namely, from one product version to
another, to a wider range such as between two different
products within the same line of products or even between
products in different product lines. The scope of reuse is
limited, in general, by the nature of and constraints on a
product line; for example, it is unwise to reuse a desktop
application in a mission-critical system. The granularity of
reuse can vary from the narrowest range of reusing a single
IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON SOFTWARE ENGINEERING, VOL. 30, NO. 9, SEPTEMBER 2004 601
. A. Tomer is with RAFAEL Ltd., PO Box 2250/1P, Haifa 31021, Israel.
. L. Goldin is with Golden Solutions, PO Box 6017, Kfar Saba 44641, Israel.
. T. Kuflik is with the Department of Management Information Systems,
University of Haifa, Mount Carmel, Haifa 31905, Israel.
. E. Kimchi can be reached at 46 Ben Gurion St. Ramat Hasharon 47321,
Israel. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
. S.R. Schach is with the Department of Electrical Engineering and
Computer Science, Vanderbilt University, Station B Box 351679,
Nashville, TN 37235. E-mail: email@example.com.
Manuscript received 10 Feb. 2004; revised 14 May 2004; accepted 2 July 2004.
Recommended for acceptance by A. Mili.
For information on obtaining reprints of this article, please send e-mail to:
firstname.lastname@example.org, and reference IEEECS Log Number TSE-0022-0204.
0098-5589/04/$20.00 ß 2004 IEEE Published by the IEEE Computer Society
artifact, such as a component, document, or test case, to the
widest possible range, namely, a whole product. Reuse can
take place during any phase of the life cycle, including
marketing and proposals, requirements, analysis, design,
coding, and testing. Performing reuse at a certain level of
reuse (life-cycle phase) usually carries with it reuse at all
subsequent levels. In black-box reuse, the artifact is reused
unchanged, whereas, in white-box reuse, the artifact is
modified to fit the target product.
In order to be able to apply reuse systematically, there is
a need to study and analyze the domain in which software
reuse will take place in order to identify software artifacts
that are candidates for future reuse. This initial task is called
domain analysis , a process of systematic studying,
modeling, and analysis of the domain. Domain analysis
starts with domain information gathering and yields a
domain model, architecture, and list of artifacts (existing
and future) that are candidates for future reuse.
2.2 Reuse Costs and Costing Policies
In many ways, reuse-based software development is similar
to the usual software development process that is per-
formed by each software organization in terms of its own
software life-cycle model. Costing all the life-cycle activities
involved in the development of new software artifacts for a
product is therefore done in terms of the life-cycle costing
policy of that organization. However, incorporating reuse
into the process involves the use of artifacts and an
organizational infrastructure that have been developed
and established out of the context of the current product.
In the following, we will list the main costs involved in
reuse-based development, as well as various policies that
may be employed for the costing of the entire product
development effort. Most organizations are aware of these
individual costs. However, some companies have difficulty
in integrating these costs into a precise company-wide
costing policy. Moreover, even when a company has such a
policy in place, such a costing policy is company-specific.
This was our experience, for example, at the beginning of
the ISWRIC project (described in detail in Section 5.1), when
the seven companies involved were unable to share and
compare reuse cost data because each company computed
its costs in its own way. This was the main motivation for
developing the model introduced in this paper.
The issue of reuse-based development costs and costing
(or funding) policies is detailed in . Although we take a
similar general approach, we have refined the cost categor-
ization in order to highlight the costing difficulties, which
are resolved by our model.
The overall costs of reuse-based software development,
from the organizational or product-line point of view, may
be divided into three categories: product construction, core-
asset construction, and infrastructure. The following are the
costs included in each category.
2.2.1 Product Construction Costs
. Asset acquisition cost includes the cost of purchas-
ing the asset from a source outside the product, as
well as the effort invested in seeking the appropriate
asset, whether it is stored in a core-asset repository
or is available elsewhere in the organization, in the
public domain, or the market.
. Asset development cost includes the cost of the
analysis, design, and coding of new or modified
artifacts, as well as the cost incurred by all the
verification and validation activities performed
directly on the asset, such as design reviews, code
walkthroughs, and unit tests. When existing artifacts
are reused as white boxes, the relevant development
cost is only the cost of modifications made to those
artifacts. However, in all instances of reuse, includ-
ing black box and COTS, extra effort may have to be
invested in modifying other artifacts of the product
in order to be able to integrate the reused asset into
. Product integration, verification, and validation
cost includes the cost of partial and full integrations,
design reviews, subsystem and system testing, and
acceptance testing. It also includes the effort put in
the development of the testing environment, such as
test equipment, simulators, automated test proce-
2.2.2 Core-Asset Construction Cost s
. Asset acquisition cost is the same type of cost as for
. Asset development cost is similar to the develop-
ment cost of product asset development. Although
the repository is not expected to produce complete
products, and therefore the product integration,
verification, and validation cost does not apply, it
might produce compound assets, which may be
constructed in a similar way to a complete product.
In this case, the cost of integration, verification, and
validation incurred until the core asset is ready for
use may be considered entirely as this asset’s
2.2.3 Infrastructure Costs
. Repository establishment and maintenance cost
includes the cost of database analysis and design,
tool development or purchase, database administra-
. Repository storage and cataloging cost includes the
cost of the effort needed for approving the artifacts
for the repository and determining the metadata
required in order to enable efficient search and
retrieval of core assets in the catalog.
. Domain Analysis (DA) cost is incurred by a set of
activities needed to define the scope and the contents
of candidate reuse assets, together with locating
them in past products and making them available
for the core-asset repository. One important activity
in DA is to define the categories into which core
assets are classified in order to check commonality
among candidate reusable artifacts. These categories
are later incorporated into the catalog metadata
accompanying the assets in the repository. Another
DA activity is the “mining” of candidate assets from
602 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON SOFTWARE ENGINEERING, VOL. 30, NO. 9, SEPTEMBER 2004
past products, in terms of the defined scope and
categorization of artifacts within the repository. DA
is usually performed when a product line is initiated
and established. However, because DA may be
reapplied whenever the scope of the product-line
changes (for example, when entering a new business
niche), it may be considered an on-going activity,
with accumulated costs.
Because the core asset construction costs and the
infrastructure costs previously mentioned are incurred
centrally, at the organization (or the product-line) level, a
costing policy is needed that defines the way these costs are
distributed among target products. A number of examples
of such costing policies (“funding strategies”) are found in
. However, these strategies are explained in words,
providing no practical tool for calculating the costs
The cost model introduced in this paper provides a
systematic and straightforward way of calculating the
overall cost of various reuse alternatives in order to select
the one that is the most cost-effective. When our model is
described later, we will refer to the costs mentioned in this
section and show how they should be considered in terms
of a specific costing policy.
2.3 Related Work
Software reuse is not merely a technical issue. On the
contrary, it is widely accepted that the organizational
challenges of software reuse outweigh the technical ones,
as summarized by the “STARS” program report, for
example . As a result, metrics are needed in order to
make “business decisions possible by quantifying and
justifying the investment necessary to make reuse happen”
. The importance of economic models and metrics of
software reuse is widely recognized, as can be seen from
numerous existing models, such as the measure put
forward by Barnes and Bollinger , who suggested
analytical approaches to making good reuse investments,
based on cost-benefit analysis. Another example is the cost-
benefit analysis with net present value model of Malan and
Wentzel . There are many more models, as surveyed by
Wiles , Poulin , Lim , and others.
Various economic models can be used to show that
successful software reuse is possible in theory. In fact, there
are many software reuse success stories in which the
economic benefits are evident in practice. For example,
substantial costs were saved due to implementation of
software reuse in the “STARS” demonstration project. The
first system that was developed cost 43 percent of a
reference baseline and a second cost only 10 percent .
Another example is the experience at Hewlett-Packard
described in  where, by applying software reuse, a
defect reduction of 15 percent was achieved and produc-
tivity increased by 57 percent. Several additional reuse
success stories are presented by Poulin .
Organizations are usually in various stages of “the
incremental adoption of reuse” described by Jacobson et al.
 as a practical approach for transition toward becoming a
domain-specific reuse-driven organization. However, the
transition phase is lengthy, and every organization needs to
find its own way; it is not obvious that the same approach is
good for everyone. Hence, organizations are at different
stages of the transition phase, and project managers must
decide what course to take at every point in time, based on
their analysis of the current situation. None of the
previously mentioned models and evaluations provides a
means to analyze and weigh alternative approaches for
software development with various types of reuse (includ-
ing no reuse). In most instances, the point of reference of
these models is software development without any reuse at
all. Even when reuse is an alternative, it is common to find
examples of only white-box reuse.
What is needed, in addition to a detailed economic
model, is a framework for analysis and comparison of
development approaches: without reuse, with white-box
reuse, and with black-box reuse. We believe that the
economic measurements used to assess the benefits of the
entire software reuse effort can also be used to help
developers in the “make versus buy” assessment. A
systematic definition of various reuse scenarios that will
provide a means to weigh the different alternatives, based
on past experience and estimation, is now needed.
3THE UNDERLYING MODEL
The reuse cost model described in this paper is based on a
three-dimensional model, introduced in , in which all
the activities of software construction in product lines, as
well as the evolution of all the artifacts involved, are
described along three axes: development, maintenance, and
reuse (see Fig. 1). A key point in the underlying three-
dimensional model and in the product-line approach in
general is the existence of a core-asset repository and the
discipline that artifacts cannot be freely transferred between
specific products without first being stored and cataloged in
the core-asset repository. The activity of fetching reuse
candidates from specific products and copying them into
the repository is called mining,whereastheinverse
operation of copying artifacts from the repository into
specific products, in order to reuse them, is called acquisition
. For simplicity, the model described in this paper is only
two-dimensional; specifically, we distinguish only between
the reuse operation, that is, copying artifacts from one plane
to another along the reuse axis, and all other operations
along the development and maintenance axes that are
TOMER ET AL.: EVALUATING SOFTWARE REUSE ALTERNATIVES: A MODEL AND ITS APPLICATION TO AN INDUSTRIAL CASE STUDY 603
Fig. 1. The three-dimensional evolution of a software product line.
concerned with making modifications to artifacts within the
same plane. In other words, for simplicity, we have unified
the development and maintenance axes, as will be
3.1 Asset Types
We assume that there is a core-assets repository in which
artifacts and their relevant metadata are indexed. There is
no need, however, for the artifacts themselves to be
physically stored in the repository—they may reside in
any specific product library, provided that each artifact
preserves its unique identification, namely, its type and the
identification of the specific product to which it belongs .
We define two kinds of artifacts, as follows:
. Repository Assets: Artifacts that are cataloged in the
core-asset repository, including their metadata.
These artifacts are available either for acquisition
by specific products or for modification (for further
reuse purposes) within the core-asset repository
itself. One important attribute of an artifact is its
size or some other measure by which the complexity
of two different assets may be compared.
. Private Assets: Artifacts that are contained within a
specific product and are available either for mining
and cataloging or for private modification, but only
within the environment of the same specific product.
Representatives of the two asset types appear in Fig. 2.
The thick perimeter of repository assets denotes that they
are “wrapped” in metadata (catalog information).
Next, we define a number of reuse-related operations,
which typically are performed during software development.
3.2 Elementary Operations
In terms of the underlying three-dimensional model, we
identify an elementary operation as an activity for obtaining
an asset, performed along a single axis. However, in contrast to
the usual type of software product construction, the scope
of reuse-based software construction extends beyond a
single product. Based on the assumption that each product
development is performed within its own budget, this
extension is significant with respect to cost. We therefore
unified the development and maintenance operations of the
original model into one category of elementary operations,
denoted as Transformation Operations (along the horizontal
axis), whereas reuse operations (along the vertical axis) will
be denoted here as Transition Operations (see Fig. 2). Each of
the operations described here may be performed indepen-
dently of other operations. Later, we will define sequences
of operations as scenarios.
3.2.1 Transformation Operations
Adaptation for Reuse (AR): Modifying an existing repository
asset R, resulting in another reusable repository asset R
Note that both R and R
must reside in the repository.
New for Reuse (NR): Constructing a new repository
from scratch. It is expected that the asset will be
developed in conformance with applicable standards that
make it effectively reusable.
White-Box reuse (WB): Modifying an existing private
asset P into another private asset P
within the same
product. Both P and P
must reside in the product library as
revisions of the same artifact.
New Development (ND): Constructing a new private
3.2.2 Transition Operations
Cataloged asset Acquisition (CA): Acquiring a copy of a
repository asset R for a specific product as a private asset P.
It is assumed that P needs to undergo further modifications
(white-box reuse) within the product in contrast to black-
box reuse (see next reuse operation).
Black-Box reuse (BB): Acquiring a copy of a repository
“as is” (that is, with no modifications) for a specific
product as a private asset P
. Ideally, this should be an
elementary copy operation; in practice, however, this
operation may require some overhead activities as a
consequence of adapting the architecture of the target
product in order for the imported asset to fit. This is also the
case when acquiring COTS assets for the product.
Mining and Cataloging (MC): Identifying and acquiring an
existing private asset P , from a certain product, and then
storing and cataloging it formally as a repository asset R.
Copy and Paste (CP): Acquiring a copy of a private asset P
for a specific product. The source asset is not cataloged in
the repository, and awareness of its existence is based on
eXternal Acquisition (XA): Acquiring an asset from some
external source and cataloging it as a repository asset R.
This is the case with COTS artifacts.
3.3 Reuse Scenarios
We define any sequence of elementary operations as a
scenario. As an example for such a scenario, we start this
section with a short case study, which will be utilized in the
sections that follow.
Case Study 1. Two software products are being devel-
oped simultaneously, each of which needs to employ a
queue of elements. Although one of the products is to be
programmed in Java and the other in C++, the software
manager realizes that both need a queue class design, which
will apparently be identical in both products. Moreover, a
previous product has implemented a queue package in Ada,
which provides the same functionality. Also, anticipating
604 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON SOFTWARE ENGINEERING, VOL. 30, NO. 9, SEPTEMBER 2004
Fig. 2. Assets and reuse operations.
that a queue class may be useful for further products in the
future, the software manager decides to assign a software
engineer to reverse-engineer the Ada package and turn it
into an object-oriented queue class design. The entire effort
may now be decomposed in terms of the elementary reuse
operations, as follows (see Fig. 3):
1. First, the Ada queue package (Q
) is identified in the
source product, copied into the repository, and
complemented with metadata, resulting in a reposi-
tory queue package (Q
). This operation was
previously defined as Mining and Cataloging (MC).
2. Because there was no reusable design available, the
repository queue package is reverse-engineered,
obtaining a queue class design in the repository
), ready for reuse by both products. This
operation was previously defined as Adaptation
for Reuse (AR).
3. Next, a copy of the queue class design is obtained by
both the Java product (Q
) and the C++ product
). These operations have been defined as
Catalog Acquisition (CA).
4. Finally, the products need the class design to be
turned into code classes in Java (Q
) and C++
), respectively. This is considered to be White-
Box reuse (WB) because private modifications were
required for both products.
The sequence of operations performed, namely,
MC ! AR ! CA ! WB, is the scenario the software en-
gineers performed in order to obtain the two queue classes
from the Ada queue package. Later, we will compare the
cost of this scenario with the cost of other possible scenarios
for achieving the same result.
A reuse scenario is any sequence of elementary operations
performed while practicing reuse. In order to determine the
optimal scenario through which the final target can be
obtained from the original source assets, we must be able to
compare the relative cost of alternative scenarios. Accord-
ingly, next we define the cost of the elementary operations
from which the cost of typical reuse scenarios can be
computed or estimated and compared.
4THE COST OF REUSE
4.1 Elementary Cost Components
We can now associate a cost factor with each of the nine
basic reuse operations of Section 3.2. In general, each
operation involves two assets: a source asset, the asset to be
copied or modified, and a target asset, the copy or the
modification obtained from the source. New assets, though,
are obtained from scratch. However, in order to deal
uniformly with all cases, we will assume the existence of a
null asset, denoted by ;, which is considered to be the
source asset in cases in which the target asset is new. This is
reflected in Fig. 4.
4.1.1 Cost of Transformation Operations
Þ is the cost of Adaptation for Reuse (AR), derived
from the direct effort (in person-hours, for example)
invested in obtaining repository asset R
repository asset R, in a way that will result in the
compatibility of R
with the reuse standards applicable for
core assets in the product line.
Þ is the cost of developing R
scratch as New for Reuse (NR).
Þ is the cost of White-Box reuse (WB), derived
from the direct effort invested in performing private
modifications to P , at the specific product level, to obtain
. In practice, the cost of white-box reuse is usually smaller
than adaptation for reuse. Private modification focuses on
only those changes needed to adapt the private asset for its
specific needs, within the context of the specific product,
whereas adaptation for reuse takes into consideration
several products that might reuse that asset.
Þ is the cost of constructing the
target private artifact P
from scratch as New Develop-
4.1.2 Cost of Transition Operations
ðR; P Þ is the cost of Catalog Acquisition (CA), which is
the cost involved in replicating a copy of the repository
asset R as a private asset P ; this cost also includes the search
and evaluation efforts before an asset is selected. Although
in most cases this cost is expected to be close to zero, license
or royalty fees may apply as well.
ð;;PÞ is the cost of Copy and Paste (CP),
incurred in searching for and acquiring an uncataloged
artifact from some external source.
ðP;RÞ is the cost of Mining (M) a copy of a private
asset P from a specific product and Cataloging (C)itasa
repository asset R. This cost typically includes determining
TOMER ET AL.: EVALUATING SOFTWARE REUSE ALTERNATIVES: A MODEL AND ITS APPLICATION TO AN INDUSTRIAL CASE STUDY 605
Fig. 3. Reuse scenario of Case Study 1.
Fig. 4. The elementary components of the cost of reuse.
R’s metadata and storing the metadata in the repository for
reuse. MC does not include any changes made to the artifact
ð;;RÞ is the cost of eXternally Acquiring
(XA) a COTS asset R and cataloging it in the repository.
This is usually the purchase price.
Þ is the cost of Black-Box (BB) reuse. It is the
cost of the direct effort invested in acquiring a cataloged
repository asset R
and integrating it into a specific product.
Because the reused artifact itself is not changed, there is no
modification cost as such. However, extra effort may be
required to adapt the architecture, interfaces, or other
artifacts of the target product in order to enable the asset to
be integrated. This is a typical cost when COTS artifacts are
considered for a product.
4.2 Applying a Costing Policy
In Section 2.2, we addressed the typical costs incurred
during reuse-based development (reuse costs). In the
following, we show how costing policies are used to
incorporate these costs in our model. We assume that the
reuse costs can be measured or estimated by the company,
but the difficult question is how to apply these costs to
specific reuse scenarios.
We view a costing policy as a mapping between the
reuse costs of Section 2.2 and the costs of the reuse-related
operations of Section 4.1. Table 1 shows an example of such
a policy. Using this table, the cost of each basic operation is
the sum of the applicable reuse costs, along the relevant
row, as follows:
. An empty entry denotes that the corresponding cost
is not applicable to the operation in question and,
therefore, its contribution to the total is zero. For
example, asset acquisition cost is not applicable to
any transformation operations because they are
performed only on artifacts that already exist in
the product or in the repository.
. “Full” means that the measured or estimated cost is
charged in full to the cost of the operation. This is
usually the case when all of the cost is incurred in
606 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON SOFTWARE ENGINEERING, VOL. 30, NO. 9, SEPTEMBER 2004
A Costing Policy
obtaining the resulting artifact. For example, the full
product development cost is charged to the white-
box reuse ðC
ÞÞ operation, reflecting the
direct cost of obtaining P
from P .
. “Part” means that part of the measured or estimated
cost is charged to the cost of the operation. This is
usually the case when costs are incurred during
activities that do not necessary involve the resulting
artifact. For example, the cost of repository establish-
ment and maintenance is partially charged to any
transition operation accessing the repository.
We remark that the concept of the costing policy table
can be easily adapted to any other cost directives affecting
the process (training, for example) by adding a new column
to the table and deciding how to allocate the total cost to the
basic reuse operations. We also believe that this tool can be
easily employed in formalizing the various funding
strategies of .
4.3 Typical Reuse Scenarios and Their Costs
In Case Study 1, we demonstrated a specific reuse
scenario, whose total cost, according to the costing policy
of Table 1, is
Þ is the cost of Mining and Cataloging
Þ is the cost of reverse-engineering the
queue class design Q
Þ and C
Þ are the costs of
for the specific products, and
Þ and C
Þ are the
costs of programming the Java and the C++ queue
The total cost can easily be compared to the cost of
developing both Q
from scratch for the
purpose of estimating the cost-effectiveness of reusing Q
in this fashion.
We now generalize the case study and consider a variety
of typical reuse scenarios. In each of these scenarios, there
are n products in which product i requires target software
;i¼ 1; ...;n. We further assume that there is
significant commonality among the T
;i¼ 1; ...;n.In
addition, there exists a private component S in an existing
product from which every T
may be obtained by perform-
ing certain modifications. We consider the following typical
scenarios, from pure development to systematic reuse:
Pure Development (PD) scenario. This is the case in which
each group responsible for one of the n products is unaware
of the existence of S and, therefore, develops its target
from scratch (see Fig. 5). In Figs. 5, 6, 7, 8, and
9, shadowed arrows represent repeated application of the
same activity in separate products.
Assuming that the cost of developing a new component T
Þ, the total cost of the PD scenario is
Opportunistic Reuse (OR) scenario. In this case, each group
responsible for one of the n products knows that there exists
a viable source S, but it is not stored in any shared
repository or registered in a public catalog. Therefore, each
of the products invests independently in searching for S,
obtaining a copy of it as a private source asset S
(at a cost of
ÞÞ and then modifying it (white-box
reuse) for utilization in target component T
(see Fig. 6).
Thus, the cost of the entire OR scenario is
Although opportunistic reuse may result in some savings
for a specific product, it is nevertheless performed on an
individual product basis. Opportunistic reuse therefore
does not benefit from common activities or a public
Controlled Reuse (CR) scenario. Suppose that a core-asset
repository has been established in which assets are stored or
cataloged for the benefit of other products. Suppose further
that a group, independent of any specific product, is
responsible for looking for private assets in specific products,
mining them, and cataloging them in the repository. In this
TOMER ET AL.: EVALUATING SOFTWARE REUSE ALTERNATIVES: A MODEL AND ITS APPLICATION TO AN INDUSTRIAL CASE STUDY 607
Fig. 5. Pure development scenario.
Fig. 6. Opportunistic reuse scenario.
Fig. 7. Controlled reuse scenario.
Fig. 8. Systematic reuse scenario.
Fig. 9. Alternative systematic reuse scenario.
scenario, a copy of the private component S is first mined and
cataloged as a repository asset S
(at the cost of C
Other than the mining and cataloging effort, no other effort is
invested in modifying S, and it is made available for other
products for acquisition in its original form. Thus, each of the
products will acquire a copy S
(at a cost of C
and then reuse S
(white-box reuse), similarly to the previous
scenario. The total cost of the CR scenario is then (see Fig. 7)
At first sight, the savings of the CR scenario over the
OR scenario do not appear to be significant. However, in
practice, the mining and cataloging effort is performed
just once in the CR scenario, in contrast to n times in the
OR scenario. Furthermore, it is likely that cost of the
catalog acquisition is close to zero.
Systematic Reuse (SR) scenario. The ultimate goal of reuse
processes is to have a set of assets that are readily available
for reuse in all future products without further modifica-
tion. In our case, a copy of S will first be mined and
cataloged as a repository asset S
, at the cost of C
will undergo modifications to convert it into a
reusable assets S
, at the cost of C
Þ. Finally, each
of the products will acquire a copy of S
as its private
target asset T
, (black-box reuse). The cost of integrating S
into product i is C
Þ;i¼ 1; ...;n. The total cost of
scenario is therefore (see Fig. 8)
An alternative form of systematic reuse is based on New
for Reuse development (instead of adaptation). In this case,
shown in Fig. 9, the cost would be
5.1 Implementation by the Software Industry
A version of this model was implemented and deployed by
ISWRIC (Israel SoftWare Reuse Industrial Consortium), a
joint project of seven leading Israeli industrial companies
supported, in part, by the Chief Scientist of the Israeli
Ministry of Trade and Industry. Three of these companies
are mainly defense contractors, developing specific custo-
mer-oriented systems, whereas the other four produce off-
the-shelf or customizable commercial products. The model
is deployed as a common measurement tool with which
data from industrial pilot projects are collected and
This two-phase, three-year project commenced in June
2000. During the first phase, a common software reuse
methodology was developed, based on existing approaches
and practices, but modified to take into account the specific
requirements of the consortium members. During the
second phase, all seven participating companies implemen-
ted the methodology in real projects. Each company tailored
the model to the specific needs of its pilot projects and
evaluated the methodological aspects relevant to the pilot
projects and the company.
The model is currently being used to compute and
compare the potential costs and benefits of alternative reuse
scenarios. It is also used for periodical reports of economic
aspects of software reuse programs. Of the seven participat-
ing companies, six have defined and evaluated their reuse
scenarios using the model and have used it as an aid to
justify their selected reuse approach. Scenarios defined by
these six companies include:
. Systematic reuse, implemented by five companies.
Of these companies, three are implementing sys-
tematic reuse based on new development of reusable
assets, and two are implementing systematic reuse
based on existing assets adapted for reuse.
. Controlled reuse, implemented by one company.
This company has selected a reuse policy in which
predefined degree of maturity from where each
product can adapt these assets (by means of white-
box reuse) to its specific needs.
Thedataweregathered,presented, and analyzed
periodically by the consortium members using the model,
as part of periodic project reports and information
Use of the model in the industry to date has demon-
strated the potential benefits of the various reuse scenarios.
The model also provided a common ground for the
presentation and discussion of results at ISWRIC meetings.
5.2 Description of an Industrial Case Study
In this section, we show how the cost model was used at
Tadiran Electronic Systems Ltd. (TES), one of the seven
companies participating in ISWRIC. The results are based
on data collected at TES from 2000 to 2003.
TES is a systems house that develops large-scale soft-
ware-intensive systems to meet specific requirements as
defined by its customers. Most projects have a well-defined
time scale and a budget under a strict contract. Products are
divided into “families” of significant similarity. During the
course of time, the company has acquired many software
assets that are potentially reusable. In practice, however, the
only reuse performed has been opportunistic, based on
individual knowledge. In view of the uncertainty of the
market, it is difficult to anticipate the potential number of
future reuses of an asset and, therefore, the company faces a
constant conflict between the immediate needs of products
versus the need to invest in a long-term infrastructure.
As part of TES’s participation in ISWRIC, TES decided to
adopt the Controlled Reuse scenario for the most part, but
the Systematic Reuse scenario was followed in several
specific cases. The company established a reuse repository
in which assets were cataloged along with their metadata
(but not necessarily ready for black-box reuse). It was
decided to allocate resources to each product team in order
to perform the Adaptation for Reuse activity within the
scope of their product, thus allowing the team to take into
account the needs of all current and future anticipated
reuses of the asset.
The reuse cost model was implemented in one depart-
ment of TES. As a first step, experienced systems and
software engineers performed a thorough domain analysis
608 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON SOFTWARE ENGINEERING, VOL. 30, NO. 9, SEPTEMBER 2004
in the department. As a result of this analysis, a software
architecture common to most products in the department
was defined, and assets that share a high degree of
commonality among products were identified as candidates
for reuse. These assets were analyzed in depth and later
were cataloged in a reuse repository, along with their
metadata. Eventually, it was decided that some of them
would be adapted for reuse (by adding functionality,
enveloping, improving quality and documentation, etc.),
whereas the others would be rewritten as new assets
(because of their poor quality, technological changes, etc.).
The adaptation for reuse was performed within the context
of three large-scale projects that were running concurrently.
5.3 Results of the Industrial Case Study
The cost model was used to evaluate the cost-effectiveness
of the selected reuse scenarios, over other alternative
scenarios, with respect to seven assets. Four of the assets
(numbered 1 through 4) were software modules that
interface with special-purpose sophisticated hardware
elements, whereas the other three (numbered 5 through 7)
were generic human-computer interface modules that have
to be configured for specific systems.
First, the cost (in person-hours) of each of the basic
operations was determined, as shown in Table 2. The costs
in boldface were actually measured, whereas the others
were estimated by experienced software and systems
engineers. The total cost of the domain analysis, 770 per-
son-hours, was evenly distributed among the seven assets.
Assets 1, 2, 3, 4, and 7 were adapted for black-box reuse and
then were integrated into their target products. Assets 5 and
6 were stored in the repository in their original form, after
domain analysis, and later were acquired by their target
products and adapted for specific use by applying white-
box reuse. The table also includes the number of products
that reused each asset in the pilot study.
As previously mentioned, the seven assets went through
two different scenarios (see Section 3.3): Assets 1, 2, 3, 4, and
7 went through the Systematic Reuse scenario, comprising
mining and cataloging (MC), adaptation for reuse (AR), and
black-box reuse (BB) activities. Assets 5 and 6 went through
the Controlled Reuse scenario, comprised of mining and
cataloging (MC), catalog acquisition (CA), and white-box
reuse (WB). The calculation of the respective costs of these
scenarios, based on the data of Table 2, was performed
using the following formulas, where n represents the
number of reuses of the asset in the pilot study:
Systematic Reuse cost ðadapted assetsÞ
þ n C
Controlled Reuse cost ¼ C
þ n ðC
The costs of the actual scenarios for each of the seven
assets are shown in boldface on the first and in the third line
of Table 3. In order to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of
these scenarios, they were compared with three other
possible scenarios (see Section 3.3):
. Systematic Reuse of newly developed assets, com-
prised of Mining and Cataloging (MC) (which had
been done anyway), New for Reuse (NR), and Black-
Box reuse (BB);
TOMER ET AL.: EVALUATING SOFTWARE REUSE ALTERNATIVES: A MODEL AND ITS APPLICATION TO AN INDUSTRIAL CASE STUDY 609
The Cost of Basic Operations for Seven Assets
Costs in boldface were measured, the others were estimates.
. Opportunistic Reuse, comprised of (separately for
each product) copy and paste (CP) and White-Box
reuse (WB); and
. Pure Development, comprised of New Development
The calculation of the respective costs of these scenarios,
based on the data of Table 2, was performed using the
following formulas, where n represents the number of
reuses of the asset in the pilot study:
Systematic Reuse cost ðnew assetsÞ¼C
þ n C
Opportunistic Reuse cost ¼ n ðC
Pure Development cost ¼ n C
We deduce from Table 3 that, except for Asset 5, the
reuse scenario that was implemented in practice achieved
the least cost over all its alternatives. As for Asset 5, Table 3
shows that the cost would have been less if Systematic
Reuse (adapted) had been implemented instead of Con-
In addition to the costs themselves, we can now give a
more quantitative meaning to cost-effectiveness. Suppose
that we chose to implement reuse scenario S over
alternative reuse scenario S
. Suppose also that we
, the cost of S, while estimating C
, the cost
. As a consequence of our choice, we nominally saved
, which represents ðC
For example, the cost of Systematic Reuse for Asset 1 was
810 p-h, whereas the alternative Pure Development scenario
was estimated at 1,400 p-h. Therefore, the savings were
(1,400 - 810)/1,400, or 42 percent.
Table 4 presents the cost-effectiveness of the actual reuse
scenarios implemented for each of the assets relative to
three other scenarios: the counterpart scenario, Opportu-
nistic Reuse (which has been popular in the company), and
Pure Development (which always appears to be the natural
We can see from Table 4 that, if the choice were between
only Systematic Reuse and Controlled Reuse, then the
largest relative savings (63 percent) would have resulted
from the Systematic Reuse of Asset 7. Conversely, the worst
choice would have been the Controlled Reuse of Asset 5 at a
cost of 28 percent relative to the alternative. In comparison
to the other referenced scenarios, we can see that the relative
savings obtained by implementing the preferred scenario
over Opportunistic Reuse were between 1 and 65 percent. In
comparison to Pure Development, the relative savings were
even more dramatic—between 41 and 81 percent.
610 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON SOFTWARE ENGINEERING, VOL. 30, NO. 9, SEPTEMBER 2004
The Cost of Alternative Reuse Scenarios for Seven Assets
Relative Savings of Alternative Reuse Scenarios
The data and the analysis of the industrial case study of
TES validate the capability of our model to express reuse
cost-effectiveness in a simple and straightforward way.
Nevertheless, the most significant power of the model lies
in its ability to predict the relative cost-effectiveness of
future reuse, in order to select the best scenario. This
prediction is calculated, as previously shown, by aggregat-
ing estimations of simple and well-defined activities. It is
not surprising that the most significant parameter is the
anticipated number of future reuses of the relevant asset. In
general, we cannot predict this number accurately. How-
ever, calculating the costs of a number of alternative
scenarios for a variable number of future reuses may yield
the cost-effectiveness trend, revealing the break-even point
for each of those alternatives.
Fig. 10 shows the cumulative cost of reusing Asset 4, for
all five scenarios of Table 3, for anticipated number of
reuses from 1 to 7. It is clear that the Systematic Reuse
scenario, based on adapting existing assets, is the most
beneficial from the second reuse onward. However, when
only one reuse is anticipated, then Opportunistic Reuse is
preferred over Controlled Reuse; Systematic Reuse can be
6CONCLUSIONS AND FURTHER WORK
The model described in this paper is a powerful tool that
can be utilized to evaluate and compare all possible
scenarios of reuse-based development, regardless of the
specific costing policies used. The major contribution of this
model is the clear identification of the basic operations
involved, together with the ability to associate a cost
component with each basic operation in a focused and
accurate way. The evaluation is largely based on estimated
data and is therefore subject to the inaccuracies of
estimation. Moreover, in different reuse contexts (such as
different units in an organization, applying reuse at
different times, or different individuals applying reuse),
estimation might vary significantly. However, when this
model is applied consistently within an organization, the
accumulated data can be analyzed for better estimates in the
future. We are currently analyzing the data obtained from
the six companies in order to define learning curves and
derive “organizational factors” that can be applied for
There are two other contributions. First, the cost model
provides a practical tool for developers to weigh and
evaluate different reuse scenarios, based on accumulated
organizational data, and decide what option to choose in a
given situation. Second, it provides a systematic mechanism
for management to analyze and evaluate various reuse
alternatives at the organizational level.
As described in Section 3, this model is derived from the
3D evolution-tree model . In fact, it is a projection of the
entire evolution tree onto the 2D plane defined by the
transition operations (reuse) axis and the transformation
operations (development and maintenance) axis. However,
we are currently investigating a broader model, which
covers all aspects of reuse-based development.
This paper focuses on comparison of cost, which is
usually the most important factor in reuse-based develop-
ment. However, other factors, such as time-to-market and
product quality, are also expected to improve by reusing
software assets. We are currently working on extending our
model to include these other factors, too.
The discussion of cost in this paper is viewed from the
standpoint of the entire product line and considers the
cumulative cost of the entire reuse effort. However,
managers of an individual product are concerned with the
direct cost of that product within the context of the
appropriate infrastructure (such as a repository) and central
activities (such as domain analysis). It is often expected that
these will be financed centrally, by the organizational R&D
group, for example. The development of a cost model,
TOMER ET AL.: EVALUATING SOFTWARE REUSE ALTERNATIVES: A MODEL AND ITS APPLICATION TO AN INDUSTRIAL CASE STUDY 611
Fig. 10. Alternative reuse scenarios for Asset 4.
based on that costing policy, is another direction for future
The model was developed within the framework of the
Israeli Software Reuse Industrial Consortium, a group of
seven leading Israeli systems developers. The mutual
lessons learned by the consortium, the different software
reuse scenarios applied by them, and the use of our model
in the different scenarios are other issues for future
The authors would like to thank the members of both the
management and technical committees of the ISWRIC
project who worked together and contributed numerous
useful suggestions toward clarifying and stabilizing the
model: Michael Vinokur (IAI—Israel Aircraft Industry),
Itzhak Lavi (IAI), Varda Barzilay (ECI Telecom), Arieh
Stroul (Creo), Shlomit Morad (Orbotech), Guy Pe’er
(Orbotech), Rami Rashkowitz (Rafael), Anat Grynberg
(NICE), and Moshe Salem (Iltam). The work of Stephen R.
Schach was supported in part by the US National Science
Foundation under grant number CCR-0097056.
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Amir Tomer received the BSc and MSc degrees
in computer science from the Technion, Israel,
and the PhD degree in computing from Imperial
College, London, United Kingdom. He is the
director of Systems and Software Engineering
Processes at RAFAEL Ltd., Israel, where he has
been since 1982, holding a variety of systems
and software engineering positions, both tech-
nical and managerial. He also teaches software
engineering at the Technion and other colleges.
He is a member of the IEEE.
Leah Goldin received the P hD degree i n
computer science from the Technion, Israel,
where her research focused on requirements
engineering. As the CEO of Golden Solutions,
she is an independent consultant specializing in
software engineering, process, and quality. She
has accumulated more than 20 years of experi-
ence developing embedded systems. During
that period, she has fulfilled various manage-
ment and technical roles, including software
development, SQA, and process improvement, at Rafael, IAI, Com-
verse, and Nice. She currently divides her time between consulting to
high-tech companies and teaching in academia; she was the head of the
Software Engineering Department at the Jerusalem College of
Engineering. She is a senior member of the IEEE and currently serves
as the chair of the Israeli Chapter of the IEEE Computer Society.
Tsvi Kuflik received the BSc and MSc degrees
in computer science and the PhD degree in
industrial engineering (information systems)
from Ben-Gurion University, Israel. He currently
works in the Department of Management In-
formation Systems at the University of Haifa,
Israel. He has 20 years of practical experience in
software and systems engineering and develop-
ment, as well as practical experience in the
design and development of personalized, adap-
table information systems. His research interests include software
engineering, artificial intelligence, and information retrieval. He is a
member of the IEEE and the IEEE Computer Society.
Esther Kimchi received the BSc and MSc
degrees in mathematics from the Technion in
Haifa, Israel, and the PhD degree in mathe-
matics from Tel Aviv University, Israel. She has
10 years of experience in mathematical research
at Tel Aviv University, Israel, and Columbia
University, New York, where she took comple-
mentary studies in computer science. She has
more than 21 years of practical experience in
systems and software engineering and develop-
ment, project management, and company methodology definition at
Tadiran Electronic Systems in Israel. She has actively participated in
various conferences on software engineering and testing. She now
works as an independent consultant.
Stephen R. Schach received the PhD degree
from the University of Cape Town. He is an
associate professor in the Department of Elec-
trical Engineering and Computer Science at
Vanderbilt University, Nash ville , Tennessee.
He is the author of more than 115 refereed
research papers. He has written 10 software
engineering t extbo oks, incl uding Object-Or-
iented and Classical Software Engineering, sixth
edition (McGraw-Hill, 2005). He consults inter-
nationally on software engineering topics. His research interests are in
software maintenance and open-source software engineering. He is a
member of the IEEE Computer Society.
. For more information on this or any other computing topic,
please visit our Digital Library at www.computer.org/publications/dlib.
612 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON SOFTWARE ENGINEERING, VOL. 30, NO. 9, SEPTEMBER 2004