System Design and the Cost of Architectural Complexity

by Daniel Sturtevant

In this case study, Dan Sturtevant explores the cost of complexity in a software firm with with hundreds of commercial products and $1B in revenue. Techniques for measuring software architecture (and its breakdown) were used to identify parts of codebases that were well structured and other parts that were less-so. In this setting, architecture problems led to a tripling of quality & risk problems, a 2.5X drop in development speed, and staff attrition problems for development teams working on code with architecture issues.

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