Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription or Fee Access

Visualizing and Measuring Software Portfolio Architecture: A Power Utility Case

Robert Lagerström, Carliss Baldwin, Alan MacCormack


In this paper, we test a Design Structure Matrix (DSM) based method for visualizing and measuring software portfolio architectures. Our data is drawn from a power utility company, comprising 192 software applications with 614 dependencies between them.  We show that the architecture of this system can be classified as a “core-periphery” system, meaning it contains a single large dominant cluster of interconnected components (the “Core”) representing 40% of the system. The system has a propagation cost of 44% and architecture flow through of 93%. This case and these findings add another piece of the puzzle suggesting that the method could be effective in uncovering the hidden structure in software portfolio architectures.


Design structure matrices, Software architecture, and Software application portfolio


Baldwin, C. and Clark, K. 2000. Design Rules, Volume 1: The Power of Modularity. MIT Press.

Baldwin, C., MacCormack, A., and Rusnack, J. 2014. Hidden structure: Using network methods to map system architecture. Research Policy, Article in Press. Accepted May 19 2014.

Barabási, A. 2009. Scale-free networks: A decade and beyond. Science 325, 5939, 412-413.

Brown, N., et al. 2010. Managing technical debt in software-reliant systems. In Proceedings of the FSE/SDP Workshop on the Future of Software Engineering Research (FoSeR'10), 47-52.

Cheraghi, D. 2014. Enterprise Application Architecture: How companies can benefit from using the Enterprise Architecture Analysis Tool. Bachelor thesis, Degree Project in Computer Science, Communication and Industrial Management, KTH Royal Institute of Technology.

Chidamber, S. R., and Kemerer, C. F. 1994. A metrics suite for object oriented design. IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering 20, 6, 476-493.

Dreyfus D. and Wyner, G. 2011. Digital cement: Software portfolio architecture, complexity, and flexibility. In Proceedings of the Americas Conference on Information Systems (AMCIS), Association for Information Systems.

Hall, N. R., and Preiser, S. 1984. Combined network complexity measures. IBM journal of research and development 28, 1, 15-27.

Lagerström, R., Baldwin, C., MacCormack, A., and Dreyfus, D. 2013. Visualizing and Measuring Enterprise Architecture: An Exploratory BioPharma Case. In Proc. of the 6th IFIP WG 8.1 Working Conference on the Practice of Enterprise Modeling (PoEM). Springer.

Lagerström, R., Baldwin, C., MacCormack, A., and Aier, S. 2014a. Visualizing and Measuring Enterprise Application Architecture: An Exploratory Telecom Case. In Proc. of the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS-47), IEEE.

Lagerström, R., Baldwin, C., MacCormack, A., & Dreyfus, D. 2014b. Visualizing and Measuring Software Portfolio Architecture: A Flexibility Analysis. Risk and change management in complex systems: Proceedings of the 16th International DSM Conference.

MacCormack, A., Baldwin, C., and Rusnak, J. 2012. Exploring the duality between product and organizational architectures: A test of the "mirroring" hypothesis. Research Policy 41, 8, 1309-1324.

Opsahl, T., Agneessens, F., and Skvoretz, J. 2010. Node centrality in weighted networks: Generalizing degree and shortest paths. Social Networks 32, 3, 245-251.

Simon, H. A. 1962. The architecture of complexity. American Philosophical Society 106, 6, 467-482.

Sosa, M., Eppinger, S., and Rowles, C. 2007. A network approach to define modularity of components in complex products. Transactions of the ASME 129, 1118-1129.

Full Text: PDF


  • There are currently no refbacks.


The Journal of Modern PM (ISSN: 2317-3963) | info@journalmodernpm.com