Understanding coordination in global software engineering: A mixed-methods study on the use of meetings and Slack

07/05/2020
by   Viktoria Stray, et al.
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Given the relevance of coordination in the field of global software engineering, this work was carried out to further understand coordination mechanisms. Specifically, we investigated meetings and the collaboration tool Slack. We conducted a longitudinal case study using a mixed-methods approach with surveys, observations, interviews, and chat logs. Our quantitative results show that employees in global projects spend 7 hours 45 minutes per week on average in scheduled meetings and 8 hours 54 minutes in unscheduled meetings. Furthermore, distributed teams were significantly larger than co-located teams, and people working in distributed teams spent somewhat more time in meetings per day. We found that low availability of key people, absence of organizational support for unscheduled meetings and unbalanced activity from team members in meetings and on Slack were barriers for effective coordination across sites. The positive aspects of using collaboration tools in distributed teams were increased team awareness and informal communication and reduced the need for e-mail. Our study emphasizes the importance of reflecting on how global software engineering teams use meetings and collaboration tools to coordinate. We provide practical advice for conducting better meetings and give suggestions for more efficient use of collaboration tools in global projects.

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