The Effect of Team Dynamics on Software Development Process Improvement

The Effect of Team Dynamics on Software Development Process Improvement

Rory O’Connor (Dublin City University, Ireland) and Shuib Basri (Lero – The Irish Software Engineering Research Centre, Dublin City University, Ireland and Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS, Malaysia)
DOI: 10.4018/jhcitp.2012070102
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Abstract

This article identifies the effect of team dynamics in the context of software development teams and its impact on software process improvement (SPI) activities in very small companies, in order to understand the relationship between these two variables. Most software development work is done by teams of software engineers working together in a collaborative manner to execute a software development process. Although there is much literature examining software process and how to improve it, less attention has been paid to the issues of team-working and specifically the impact of team dynamics on the software development process. Team dynamics is the term used to define how people work and interact together in teams. Teamwork is more effective with the existence of positive team dynamic, as it encourages a better working environment with satisfied, fulfilled employees who will in turn be more productive. This paper presents the results of a research study of team dynamics in very small software development companies and its impact on the software development process and software process improvement activities.
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1. Introduction

A team is a collection of individuals who are inter-dependent in their tasks, who share responsibility for outcomes, who see themselves and who are see by others as an intact social entity embedded in one or more larger social systems (for example, a business unit or company), and who manage their relationships across organizational boundaries (Cohen & Bailey, 1997). The basis of every software development organization is a team, be it a management team, a development team, a trouble-shooting team or a testing team. Software/IT organizations are under more pressure than ever before to become more productive and more cost effective. The use of teams has been shown by Barnum (2000) to increase speed, productivity, problem-solving ability and organizational learning. Levi (2001) stated that a team is more than just a collection of people.

The foundations of the team and team dynamics are laid down during team-building. To remain competitive, organizations must focus on forming and maintaining high-performing, successful teams. Beaver and Schiavone (2006) found that teams undergo the same four stages of evolution as follows:

  • Forming - Where members get to know each other.

  • Storming - Conflict and disagreement about rules and procedures.

  • Norming - Establishment of rules and social relationships.

  • Performing - Work, completion of task.

According to Rusher (1997) a team should not be viewed as the end product of a team-building activity. Instead she found that a team should be viewed as a dynamic entity, always changing in response to its circumstances and environment. She found that the team-building activity should be viewed merely as kicking off a process that should be continued when the team returns to its real-life work environment, otherwise the team would regress to its original state.

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