Papers at ICSE 2019

In 2018, the HELENA team was quite busy working on and analyzing the data. Eventually, 21 team members came together and wrote the paper “Catching up with Method and Process Practice: An Industry-Informed Baseline for Researchers“, which was submitted to the Software Engineering in Practice Track of the International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE-SEIP) and was accepted for publication. You can find the accepted manuscript (author version) of the paper here.

Another team came together and set up a small study complementing the HELENA main study. In this study, teachers have been contacted and surveyed regarding the frameworks, methods and practices they teach, and how these relate to practice. The paper “Walking through the Method Zoo: Does Higher Education really meet Software Industry Demands?” was submitted to the Software Engineering Education Track of the International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE-SEET) and was accepted for publication. You can find the accepted manuscript (author version) of the paper here.

Paper at ICSSP 2019

Finally, a team of nine authors lead by Paolo Tell analyzed the HELENA-2 data to provide an initial answer to the question what are hybrid methods made of? The team submitted the paper “What are Hybrid Development Methods Made Of? An Evidence-based Characterization” to the International Conference on Software and Systems Process (ICSSP), which was co-located with ICSE 2019. The paper was accepted for presentation and, what makes us really proud, received the ACM SIGSOFT Distinguished Paper Award ICSSP 2019!

You can find the accepted manuscript (author version) of the paper here.

Get Together…

Right after ICSSP, the HELENA team members available met to discuss the current state of the initiative. Also, future activities have been discussed – and many new plans were made…


So, we look back to a great ICSE and ICSSP week in Montreal. Thanks to the whole team!

HELENA – Education vs. Practice

Complementing the main HELENA study, in the summer 2018, one team conducted a small, complementing survey among teachers. The driving question was: Do we teach methods and practices of practical relevance?

The study was submitted to the Education-Track of the International Conference on Software Engineering 2019, and was accepted for presentation. Similar to the main study, the team created a short executive summary and published the datasets. You can find the summary here.


The complementing dataset can be found here. And, finally, you can find the accepted ICSE-SEET paper right here.

Reflections on the 3rd HELENA Workshop

On November 28, 2019, the 3rd HELENA workshop was held in conjunction with PROFES 2019 (Wolfsburg, Germany). The workshop was organized by Paolo Tell, Stephen G. MacDonell and Sherlock Licorish. About 20 persons attended the workshop.


In the workshop, the current state of the community activities was given and several team members presented finished or ongoing activities. As usual, the main part of the workshop was group work.

A highlight was the publication of the HELENA Stage 2 dataset. The team made all data, all codebooks, and all information required to replicate our research available. The dataset and the complementary material is available here.

To help interested researchers and practitioners understand the data, the team also created a 20-page executive summary. This summary can be downloaded here.


2nd HELENA Workshop – a short reflection


On November 29, 2017, the HELENA team held the 2nd HELENA workshop in Innsbruck. This time, the workshop had a very tight program: 6 regions presented initial findings. Furthermore, 4 (external) speakers gave lightning talks to challenge the HELENA team.

In summary, the HELENA team could celebrate a very successful data collection in the project’s second stage. In total, 1467 participants started and 691 completed the questionnaire (finally, 732 data points were accepted for analysis). Data was provided from participants from 55 countries (completed questionnaires from 42 countries), and 18 countries provided more than 10 data points – see also our world map of participating countries…


Beyond the presentation of the data collection outcomes, we ran breakout sessions that addressed topics such as terminology, data extraction and many more. Finally, the participants took the opportunity to team up, discuss topics of interest for data analysis and further collaboration.

HELENA results will now appear step-by-step, so: follow us to get latest information!

In summary, we (Stephen, Jürgen, Philipp, Marco) thank all the participants for the many contributions and the lively discussion. We look forward to meet again soon – next time hosted by Stephen MacDonell in New Zealand.

HELENA Stage 2 Activities

On September 30, 2017, we officially closed the stage-2 data collection. From October 1 to November 5, we had the phase-out of the study in which we collected final data points form (late) contacts and gave teams that joined HELENA over the summer some extra time to collect data. But, it’s done now! In total, we have collected ~1,450 interviews of which 691 participants submitted completely answered questionnaires.

On November 29, 2017, we will have the 2nd HELENA workshop in Innsbruck, Austria (co-located with PROFES 2017). The workshop program can be found here.

Also, follow us in Twitter (@helena_survey) or visit our ResearchGate project to get latest publications (and a bit later) project data.

1st HELENA Workshop – Reflection

July 5, 2017


The first international HELENA workshop was held co-located with the 2017 International Conference on Software and Systems Process (ICSSP). The goals of this workshop were to bring the HELENA team together, foster general networking, discuss the current state of the project, and develop a roadmap towards future activities. From the 84 researchers and practitioners from 25 active countries, 25 participated in this workshop. The overall status report shows that the HELENA survey is increasingly gaining attention, and more then 300 data points have been collected so far. The team agreed on a number of topics for future activities, e.g., organizational transformation, adaptation and evolution, and development approaches for safety-critical systems.

Breakout Session an Topics of Interest

2017-07-05-ws-top-structure-smallA major part of the 1st workshop was the development of a research agenda. In a first step, the team performed a breakout session in which (potential) topics of interest were collected. The resulting topic candidates were clustered and selected clusters were discussed in small groups. Eventually, the following three clusters were defined:

  1. Organizational Transformation
  2. Adaptation and Evolution
  3. Safety

Further topics will be discussed in later editions of the workshop and further (sub-)team meetings.

Further Activities and Next Steps

After the 1st workshop, the team continues collecting data – an extension of the data collection period was discussed (esp. Scandinavia is on vacation and new teams need time to onboard…). Furthermore, a small task group was established to work on a position paper concerning the terminology (traditional, agile, hybrid – what is it after all?).  It was decided to build a team headed by Özden Özcan-Top and Paolo Tell to develop such a position paper in which the HELENA team clarifies the notion of the concepts researched.

The 2nd HELENA workshop will be held in conjunction with PROFES 2017 in Innsbruck, Austria.

HELENA Stage 2 is ready!

After many months of hard work, the second stage of HELENA is ready. Tomorrow, more precisely, tonight with more than 60 researchers from more than 20 countries. That’s big, and we are very proud to have such a great team.

The questionnaire open May 3, 2017 at 0:00 and will accept answers until July 31, 2017. There will be some broadcasting using social media and also a more direct data collection approach. Therefore, follow us on ResearchGate and Twitter to stay up-to-date and to have quick access to our findings.

You can access the questionnaire here:

You are not (yet) on the participant’s list? You are open to share data and experience with us? Please contact us (the organization team).

HELENA is about to start…

We’re making progress. In the last blog, we announced the Twitter feed (@helena_survey) – and now, we’re active. Furthermore, the 1st HELENA workshop, which is co-located with ICSSP 2017 in Paris, was just officially announced. You can also find further information about this workshop on this website.

But note: all information is still tentative. We are working… Meanwhile, to all who do so: enjoy the Easter break.

HELENA Website Grows

Folks, we’re making progress. The survey is now implemented, and it will be available in 4 languages. Also, we created a Twitter account for our @helena_survey, so follow us on Twitter to get the latest information timely.

Finally, we have gathered most of our team and included the people into our shared workspace. So, we’re almost there! HELENA stage 2 is about to start very soon!