SEAFOOD 2010

Agile Teams collaborator Petra Björndal recently traveled to SEAFOOD (Software Engineering Approaches For Offshore and Outsourced Development) 2010 to present our GSD Collaboration team’s paper on “Global Software Development: A Case Study”. She noted that the conference was small but interesting, with several papers describing novel approaches to task allocation and knowledge management. The SEAFOOD 2010 program included keynotes by Richard Soley and Bertrand Meyer, and closed with a discussion on SEMAT by Ivar Jacobson.

Petra’s slides can now be downloaded from the conference site here, or from the Agile Teams publications area. The papers from SEAFOOD are published through Springer (if you’d like to read ours, drop us a note).

Our GSD Collaboration research team also has a paper accepted at ICGSE 2010, on “Causal Analysis of Factors Governing Collaboration among Global Software Development Teams”. We’re looking forward to further discussions in Princeton on how to help globally distributed development teams be more effective!

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GSD everywhere

March 4, 2010 1 comment

On Feb. 16 I participated on a panel session on Practical Software Development at a meeting of the Eastern NC chapter of the IEEE Computer Society. The plan was that co-panelists (Andy Hunt and Bob Galen) and I would give 10-minute Point Of View talks, then moderator John Baker would open it up for audience questions. My POV? I thought carefully about what I’ve observed in companies of various sizes and styles, across different industries, and organized my thoughts into slides. This exercise made it crystal clear to me that I’ve witnessed and experienced way too many success and failure factors to fit into 10 minutes … which should I choose as my main point of view?

In the end I chose to focus my one major topic not on technological issues, but on people issues. I believe that:

  • Teams and people matter (most),
  • Good communications are critical,
  • And collaboration effectiveness can almost always be improved by considering the relevance of the key aspects of globally distributed software development, or GSD (culture, language, physical distance, and temporal or time-zone distance) – even if your team, stakeholders, and customers aren’t globally distributed.

During the panel session, a show of hands with the audience supported this last assertion: of the 20+ people in attendance, only two were working in situations unaffected by GSD factors – and one was currently between jobs.

Although I didn’t actually use the slides I had prepared (a great example of planning being invaluable even if the actual documented plan is useless), I’ve posted them in the Agile Teams publications area for reference. A detailed writeup of the panelists’ points of view and the Q&A session is available in Agile Teams blog post “Practical Software Development” (now with photos). Comments welcome!

Categories: gsd Tags: , , , ,

the human moment, 10 years later

Today, thanks to via @dwhelan and @SAlhir, I came across a 10-year-old Harvard Business Review article by Edward M. Hallowell on the importance of real, face-to-face ‘human moments’ to meaningful communication and resolving or defusing interpersonal issues. Its relevance to globally distributed software development was obvious, so I kept reading.

At first I didn’t notice that the article was written in early 1999: it seemed completely relevant today, if not even more so due to the explosion in virtual communications (blogs, microblogs, Second Life, email, waves, smartphone texts, etc.). Hallowell defines “the human moment: an authentic psychological encounter that can happen only when two people share the same physical space.” While co-location is necessary, it is not sufficient: “The human moment has two prerequisites: people’s physical presence and their emotional and intellectual attention.” His concern, which appears to have been well-founded, was “as the tide of electronic hyperconnection rises, the landscape of work is in some ways changing for the worse.”

Electronic hyperconnection hasn’t just been a rising tide over the past 10 years; it’s been more of a tsunami. And the use of globally distributed software development (GSD) teams has increased significantly as well. Does the combination create a perfect storm, or can these virtual communications offset the risks of GSD?

We’ve been experimenting with telepresence-style technologies, and they clearly do have the potential for conveying emotional and intellectual attention (if the participants provide it). What seems to somehow still be missing, and perhaps this is why videoconferencing isn’t yet a true substitute for face-to-face meetings, is enablement of a sufficient level of interpersonal energy.

Have any of you ever had a virtual ‘meeting’ in which you experienced the same level of interpersonal connection as F2F? If so, I’d love to hear how you did it.

Categories: gsd

GSD and Human Aspects of Software Engineering

November 5, 2009 1 comment

On Oct. 25 I presented our paper and poster on “Measuring Collaboration in Globally Distributed Software Development Teams” at the Human Aspects of Software Engineering (HAoSE) Workshop at OOPSLA 2009. It was very well received, and we enjoyed an active discussion on many aspects of GSD collaboration. PDFs of the paper and poster are now available for download from the Agile Teams publications page: (paper) (poster)

seven GSD tips

Found a recent blog post on the Bright Green Projects blogsite: 7 tips for working with distributed teams. A few of the tips are tool-specific (including one for their own product), but not all are; it touches nicely on the key factors of communication, trust, coordination, cultural awareness, etc.

Categories: gsd

GSD portal launch

September 25, 2009 Leave a comment

I recently attended a workshop on cultural and communications issues with global development at the 2009 Requirements Engineering conference. At the end, I asked the attendees whether they were aware of any web portal for GSD (globally distributed software development) … none could be identified. So let’s give WordPress a whirl, shall we? Global collaborators are WELCOME as co-authors!

Those of you who use LinkedIn are also cordially invited to please join the GSD Collaboration group there.

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