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Global software teams face challenges when collaborating over long distances, such as communicating changes in the project. During a four-month case study at IBM Ottawa Software Lab we observed the collaboration patterns of a multi-site development project team. In this period, we inspected project documentation, interviewed team leaders, attended project meetings, and spoke with developers to identify problems originated by the lack of awareness of changes related to the implementation of work items. Our observations show (1) that organizational culture has an effect on how developers are made aware; (2) that communication-based social networks revolving around particular work items are dynamic throughout development, and therefore awareness needs to be maintained in infrastructures of work; and (3) that information overload and communication breakdowns contributed to the generation of a broken integration build. We discuss these breakdowns in communication and implications for the design of collaboration tools that could mitigate these problems.
Date of Conference: 27-30 Aug. 2007