June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
Software Engineering Constituent Committee
11.214.1 - 11.214.9
Analyzing Communications Activities in Student Software Projects
It is well recognized that communications among the team members play an important part in the success of team projects1. This paper examines and characterizes the amount of communications that take place in the different activities and phases of software development projects. An important set of activities, project management, is also included in our study.
Previous research2 has shown that team communications and team performance has a curvilinear relationship. Several studies7,8 have shown that effective communication is related to success in information technology projects. Some preliminary data in Tsui’s paper3 has shown that the software project team with the most technical problems and least amount of leadership displayed the lowest amount of e-mail messages and volume of communications per team member. In Dutoit and Bruegge’s paper4 it is shown that communications artifacts generated by the software team can provide further insight into software development process and methodologies. The forms of communication have also been studied, and there is strong belief that the most effective form of communications for software development is face-to-face 5, 6.
We studied the communication activities among student team members who were given a software project to manage and complete. Nine student teams were studied. Each team was composed of four team members. These were relatively small teams where one might wonder if communications is an important factor as in large software project teams. While each team developed slightly different solutions, the project problem was the same. In other words, they were given the same requirements. The tools and process utilized by these teams were also very similar. Each team essentially performed requirements analysis, detailed design and code, and unit and functional testing. They all performed three major activities related to direct software development. In addition, each team prepared a project plan, presented a weekly status report, and a final project report. This set is considered indirect activities.
Three basic forms of communications were utilized by all the project teams.
- face-to-face meetings - telephone - e-mails
All communications are recorded in terms of person-minutes. Thus if three team members met for 20 minutes, the amount of communications is recorded as 60 person- minutes. Two people talking over the telephone for 5 minutes is recorded as 10 person- minutes. In the case of e-mails, only the construction and sending of the e-mail time by the author is recorded. For this study, no consideration was given to how many people
Tsui, F., & Karam, O. (2006, June), Analyzing Communications Activities In Student Software Projects Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--184
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