Empirical study of communication structures and barriers in geographically distributed teams

Publication Type:
Journal Article
IET Software, 2016, 10 (5), pp. 147 - 153
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Conway's law asserts that communication structures of organisations constrain the design of the products they develop. This law is more explicitly observable in geographically distributed contexts because distributed teams are required to share information across different time zones and barriers. The diverse business processes and functions adopted by individual teams in geographically distributed settings create challenges for effective communication. Since the publication of Conway's law, a significant body of research has emerged in its relation to the communication structures. When it comes to software projects, the explicit observation about Conway's law has produced mixed results. The research reported in this study explores the communication structures and corresponding challenges faced by teams within a large geographically distributed software development organisation. The data was collected from relevant documents, a questionnaire and interviews with relevant stakeholders. The findings suggest that Conway's law is observable within the communication structures of globally distributed software development teams. The authors have identified the barriers and challenges of effective communications in this setting and have investigated the benefits of utilising an integrated system to overcome these challenges.
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