Traditionally, the study of software engineering has been primarily a technical endeavor with minimal attention given to its economic context. Design and implementation methods are proposed based on technical merits without making adequate links to economic considerations. Engineering seeks to create value relative to resources invested in a given context, whether commercial or not. Software development essentially is an irreversible capital investment and software should add value to the organization just as any other capital expenditure that creates a net benefit.
The software engineering research community has not yet met the needs of the software engineering industry because it has been largely unable to characterize the economic nature or consequences of engineering decisions. Increasingly, software engineers in organizations whose very existence is dependent upon the profitability of their software find themselves poorly equipped to make technical decisions that have significant but poorly understood economic consequences.
Other disciplines, such as decision theory, game theory, and economics, have highly relevant conceptual and well-established ideas that have the potential to contribute to the foundations of software engineering, but the typical software engineer seldom encounters this work. By viewing the software product as an economic artifact as opposed to a strictly technical one, we find that much of this work has the potential to contribute to concepts, tools and methods that align with industry's needs. An interdisciplinary approach that seeks to infuse traditional software engineering with the concepts, models, tools, and underlying philosophies of such theory and practice promises to help advance the technical discipline of software design and engineering.
EDSER now has a long tradition with ICSE. Earlier EDSER workshops have shown that software engineering research and practice is starting to benefit from this cross-pollination. These workshops identified a wealth of applications, ranging from software process, quality, project management and contract management to architecture, reuse, prototyping, rapid development, and security.
In view of this background, the goals of the EDSER Workshop series are:
EDSER Workshops have always been held at the ICSE Conferences and were always well attended, resulting in a significant network of researchers active in economics-based software engineering research. The objectives of EDSER-6 are both to sustain and reinforce the intellectual momentum that the first five workshops created, and to explore bridging the gap between research and industry application of economic-based software engineering. In addition, with EDSER-4, the community started creating units of instruction that educators could integrate into software engineering curriculums. EDSER-6 will continue to further develop and broaden these core instructional units. Now the CourseForges website (http://seg.iit.nrc.ca/yawc/courseforges/public/wiki.cgi/) hosts more than a dozen educational units on software engineering economics, thanks to contributions from the EDSER community and pioneering efforts of the Steering Committee member Mary Shaw.