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An empirical study of global software development: distance and speed

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4 Author(s)
Herbsleb, J.D. ; Lucent Technol. Bell. Labs., Naperville, IL, USA ; Mockus, A. ; Finholt, T.A. ; Grinter, R.E.

Global software development is rapidly becoming the norm for technology companies. Previous qualitative research suggests that multi-site development may increase the development cycle time. We use both survey data and data from the source code change management system to model the extent of delay in a multi-site software development organization, and explore several possible mechanisms for this delay. We also measure differences in same-site and cross-site communication patterns, and analyze the relationship of these variables to delay. Our results show that, compared to same-site work, cross-site work takes much longer and requires more people for work of equal size and complexity. We also report a strong relationship between delay in cross-site work and the degree to which remote colleagues are perceived to help out when workloads are heavy. We discuss the implications of our findings for collaboration technology for distributed software development.

Published in:

Software Engineering, 2001. ICSE 2001. Proceedings of the 23rd International Conference on

Date of Conference:

12-19 May 2001