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|Managing Research Based Software Product Development in Sri Lankan Universities
|Research groups of universities around the world have become entrepreneurial during the past few years and by doing so intend to be productive and financially independent entities. The authors of this study identified several research groups in Sri Lanka that could not overcome challenges to become sustainable research and development entities. As successful functioning of such entities lead to the development of a country, investigation of this topic is considered important. There is little empirical research on managing research based software products within universities which could shed light to enhance the current status within the universities. Therefore, this study is designed to answer three research questions: (1) Why do software development research projects in universities need different management practices from existing software development methodologies? (2) What are the challenges faced by researchers when managing research and software product development within Sri Lankan universities? (3) How do established research groups manage research based software product development within Sri Lankan universities? Using a qualitative longitudinal study, the authors investigated the management aspects of software development research. The study was conducted using grounded theory approach and case study research methods. Data was collected from members of research groups and industry practitioners in Sri Lanka via semi-structured interviews and open ended questionnaires. Using the theoretical lens of software engineering, project management, and systems theory, the authors identified the challenges and suggested best management practices to improve the overall research culture in local universities. Challenges occurred due to dynamic teams, lack of committed leadership, uncertain milestones and lack of essential resources. Among the many best practices presented, creating a research culture by research supervisors through actively engaging with the group, community building and revenue generation through small scale industry projects are considered as important. A framework is developed based on the best practices. It can be used to strategically manage research groups in the universities to achieve long term sustainability and financial independence. Furthermore, findings of this study could be used to create awareness and motivate students to be successful researchers or entrepreneurs. As future research, theoretical aspects of each concept of the framework can be further investigated.
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