June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Systems Engineering Constituent Committee
15.1002.1 - 15.1002.10
Promoting Effective Communication in Global Engineering Projects
Effective communication plays a key role in the success of engineering teams. However, achieving a high level of communication when developing projects globally can be challenging. An organization’s learning capacity, its familiarity with the cultural diversity of its team members, and its information technology support for project planning, data management, group communication and collaboration among geographically distributed teams, are some key factors that can help overcome this challenge.
Through a study conducted in 2008 by NASA, communication was identified as one of the five top level themes their highly valued Systems Engineers possess21. The purpose of the NASA study is to accelerate the development of critical Systems Engineering behaviors and to ensure these behaviors were developed for the next generation of highly regarded System Engineers. In reality, effective communication is extremely important in any type of engineering. For example, in requirements engineering effective communication is imperative during processes that support knowledge acquisition and understanding of stakeholder needs13.
The increased need to improve communication efforts is evident due to many engineering disciplines increasing their development efforts across different sites in different geographic locations and across different time zones. Major factors that have contributed to this globalization trend include cheaper labor, the need for specialized skills and expertise, and corporate mergers. For example, the outsourcing of various functions or activities of the software business has become increasingly prevalent leading to “capability sourcing”1 particularly when companies’ expertise falls short in some technical areas. In addition, some companies already have offices that span the world creating a globally distributed technical asset, although they may still outsource software development for strategic reasons.
Globalization can, however, bring on big challenges. It is well known, for instance, that effective communication plays a key role in the performance of product development teams 2,3,4,5. Researchers have shown that well-coordinated teams demonstrate a higher level of overall performance, especially when their tasks are interrelated and compactly situated6,7. Achieving the desired levels of coordination among geographically distributed teams can be extremely challenging, however, due to the negative impact that increased distance has on communication8. Research shows that a mere 100 meters of separation results in a significant drop in communication between team personnel2. The communication degradation may increase with distance; however, beyond 100 meters it becomes almost irrelevant whether collaborators are
DeFranco, J., & Deek, F., & Sangwan, R. (2010, June), Promoting Effective Communication In Global Engineering Projects Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. https://peer.asee.org/15645
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