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Title [en]
SCALEWISE- Support for continuous growth in large-scale distributed software development
Abstract [en]
Background: Organizational scaling in companies developing large and complex products often negatively impacts product quality, time-to-market, and user satisfaction, because the amount of knowledge to learn for such development is huge. Scaling is more challenging if it implies onboarding large number of employees that significantly lowers the overall level of competence in the product organization, if it occurs remotely, and especially when adding locations with high turnover rates and no local experts. Unplanned scaling may lead to significant performance gaps growing beyond the recovery possibility. Yet, the true implications of scaling and ways to scale are neither systematically evaluated, nor well understood.Why are these problems unsolved: Even though global software development challenges are well researched, organizational learning with respect to offshore sourcing has been slow and not passed well within and across organizations. This might be also because today’s large-scale projects are so large, complex and unique that there is a limited ability to learn from previous efforts. Besides, little is known about “mega” large-scale environments (hundreds of teams) and onboarding hundreds of engineers in ongoing products, about estimating and controlling scaling impacts, and choosing effective learning strategies.Focus of the project: ScaleWise is set to perform a holistic study of scaling processes aiming to build a theory and taking into account the team, product and organizational perspectives (socio-technical aspects). Our goal is to understand the trade-offs when scaling locally vs remotely, preventive actions and practices that minimize negative impacts of scaling on performance (cost, productivity and quality) and develop a set of actionable recommendations for scaling and onboarding.
Publications (5 of 5) Show all publications
Šmite, D., Moe, N. B., Floryan, M., Gonzalez-Huerta, J., Dorner, M. & Sablis, A. (2023). Decentralized decision-making and scaled autonomy at Spotify. Journal of Systems and Software, 200, Article ID 111649.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Decentralized decision-making and scaled autonomy at Spotify
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2023 (English)In: Journal of Systems and Software, ISSN 0164-1212, E-ISSN 1873-1228, Vol. 200, article id 111649Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

While modern software companies strive to increase team autonomy to enable them to successfully operate the piece of software they develop and deploy, efficient ways to orchestrate the work of multiple autonomous teams working in parallel are still poorly understood. In this paper, we report how team autonomy is maintained at Spotify at scale, based on team retrospectives, interviews with team managers and archival analysis of corporate databases and work procedures. In particular, we describe how managerial authority is decentralized through various workgroups with collective authority, what compromises are made to team autonomy to ensure alignment and which team-related factors can further hinder autonomy. Our findings show that scaled autonomy at Spotify does not mean anarchy, or unlimited permissiveness. Instead, squads are expected to take responsibility for their work and coordinate, communicate and align their actions with others, and comply with a few enabling constraints. Further, squads take many decisions independently without management control or due to collective efforts that bypass formal boundary structures. Mechanisms and strategies that enable self-organization at Spotify are related to effective sharing of the codebase, achieving alignment, networking and knowledge sharing, and are described to guide other companies in their efforts to scale autonomy. © 2023 The Author(s)

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2023
Keywords
Decision making, Human resource management, Coordination, Decentralized decision-making, Enabling constraint, Large-scale software development, Large-scales, Scaled autonomy, Scaling agile, Scalings, Software company, The spotify model, Software design, Enabling constraints
National Category
Software Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:bth-24390 (URN)10.1016/j.jss.2023.111649 (DOI)000992126800001 ()2-s2.0-85149631583 (Scopus ID)
Funder
Knowledge Foundation, 20190087Knowledge Foundation, 20170176The Research Council of Norway, 309344
Available from: 2023-03-23 Created: 2023-03-23 Last updated: 2023-06-19Bibliographically approved
Šmite, D., Moe, N. B., Klotins, E. & Gonzalez-Huerta, J. (2023). From forced Working-From-Home to voluntary working-from-anywhere: Two revolutions in telework. Journal of Systems and Software, 195, Article ID 111509.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>From forced Working-From-Home to voluntary working-from-anywhere: Two revolutions in telework
2023 (English)In: Journal of Systems and Software, ISSN 0164-1212, E-ISSN 1873-1228, Vol. 195, article id 111509Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The COVID-19 outbreak has admittedly caused interruptions to production, transportation, and mobility, therefore, having a significant impact on the global supply and demand chain's well-functioning. But what happened to companies developing digital services, such as software? How has the enforced Working-From-Home (WFH) mode impacted their ability to deliver software, if at all? This article shares our findings from monitoring the WFH during 2020 in an international software company with engineers located in Sweden, the USA, and the UK. We analyzed different aspects of productivity, such as developer job satisfaction and well-being, activity, communication and collaboration, efficiency and flow based on the archives of commit data, calendar invites, Slack communication, the internal reports of WFH experiences, and 30 interviews carried out in April/May and September 2020. We add more objective evidence to the existing COVID-19 studies the vast majority of which are based on self-reported productivity from the early months of the pandemic. We find that engineers continue committing code and carrying out their daily duties, as their routines adjust to “the new norm”. Our key message is that software engineers can work from home and quickly adjust their tactical approaches to the changes of unprecedented scale. Further, WFH has its benefits, including better work-life balance, improved flow, and improved quality of distributed meetings and events. Yet, WFH is not challenge free: not everybody feels equally productive working from home, work hours for many increased, while physical activity, socialization, pairing and opportunities to connect to unfamiliar colleagues decreased. Information sharing and meeting patterns also changed. Finally, experiences gained during the pandemic will have a lasting impact on the future of the workplace. The results of an internal company-wide survey suggest that only 9% of engineers will return to work in the office full time. Our article concludes with the InterSoft's strategy for work from anywhere (WFX), and a list of useful adjustments for a better WFH. © 2022 The Author(s)

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2023
Keywords
Engineers, Job satisfaction, Productivity, Software engineering, Case-studies, Digital services, Empirical studies, Global supply chain, Production transportation, Software company, Supply and demand chains, Telework, Working from home, Working-from-home, COVID-19, Case study, Empirical study, WFH
National Category
Software Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:bth-23761 (URN)10.1016/j.jss.2022.111509 (DOI)000875668800002 ()2-s2.0-85139327922 (Scopus ID)
Funder
Knowledge Foundation, 20190087Knowledge Foundation, 20170176Knowledge Foundation, 20180010The Research Council of Norway, 309344The Research Council of Norway, 267704
Note

open access

Available from: 2022-10-21 Created: 2022-10-21 Last updated: 2022-12-13Bibliographically approved
Šmite, D., Moe, N. B., Hildrum, J., Gonzalez-Huerta, J. & Mendez, D. (2023). Work-from-home is here to stay: Call for flexibility in post-pandemic work policies. Journal of Systems and Software, 195, Article ID 111552.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Work-from-home is here to stay: Call for flexibility in post-pandemic work policies
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2023 (English)In: Journal of Systems and Software, ISSN 0164-1212, E-ISSN 1873-1228, Vol. 195, article id 111552Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In early 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic forced employees in tech companies worldwide to abruptly transition from working in offices to working from their homes. During two years of predominantly working from home, employees and managers alike formed expectations about what post-pandemic working life should look like. Many companies are experimenting with new work policies that balance employee- and manager expectations regarding where, when and how work should be done in the future. In this article, we gather experiences of the new trend of remote working based on the synthesis of 22 company-internal surveys of employee preferences for WFH, and 26 post-pandemic work policies from 17 companies and their sites, covering 12 countries in total. Our results are threefold. First, through the new work policies, all companies formally give employees more flexibility regarding working time and location. Second, there is a great variation in how much flexibility the companies are willing to yield to the employees. The paper details the different formulations that companies adopted to document the extent of permitted WFH, exceptions, relocation permits and the authorisation procedures. Third, we document a change in the psychological contract between employees and managers, where the option of working from home is converted from an exclusive perk that managers could choose to give to the few, to a core privilege that all employees feel they are entitled to. Finally, there are indications that as the companies learn and solicit feedback regarding the efficiency of the chosen strategies, we will see further developments and changes in the work policies concerning how much flexibility to work whenever and from wherever they grant. Through these findings, the paper contributes to a growing literature about the new trends emerging from the pandemic in tech companies and spells out practical implications onwards. © 2022 The Author(s)

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2023
Keywords
Human resource management, Managers, Authorization procedure, Hybrid workplace, Post-pandemic, Psychological contracts, Remote work, Remote working, Work from anywhere, Work from home, Working life, Working time, Surveys, Survey
National Category
Work Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:bth-24019 (URN)10.1016/j.jss.2022.111552 (DOI)000906907300004 ()2-s2.0-85142142102 (Scopus ID)
Funder
Knowledge Foundation, 20190087Knowledge Foundation, 20180010Knowledge Foundation, 20170176The Research Council of Norway, 309344The Research Council of Norway, 321477
Note

open access

Available from: 2022-12-02 Created: 2022-12-02 Last updated: 2023-02-02Bibliographically approved
Šmite, D., Tkalich, A., Moe, N. B., Papatheocharous, E., Klotins, E. & Pettersen Buvik, M. (2022). Changes in perceived productivity of software engineers during COVID-19 pandemic: The voice of evidence. Journal of Systems and Software, 186, Article ID 111197.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Changes in perceived productivity of software engineers during COVID-19 pandemic: The voice of evidence
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2022 (English)In: Journal of Systems and Software, ISSN 0164-1212, E-ISSN 1873-1228, Vol. 186, article id 111197Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a natural experiment of an unprecedented scale as companies closed their offices and sent employees to work from home. Many managers were concerned that their engineers would not be able to work effectively from home, or lack the motivation to do so, and that they would lose control and not even notice when things go wrong. As many companies announced their post-COVID permanent remote-work or hybrid home/office policies, the question of what can be expected from software engineers who work from home becomes more and more relevant. Aims: To understand the nature of home telework we analyze the evidence of perceived changes in productivity comparing office work before the pandemic with the work from home during the pandemic from thirteen empirical surveys of practitioners. Method: We analyzed data from six corporate surveys conducted in four Scandinavian companies combined with the results of seven published surveys studying the perceived changes in productivity in industrial settings. In addition, we sought explanations for the variation in perceived productivity among the engineers from the studied companies through the qualitative analysis of open-ended questions and interviews. Results: Combined results of 7686 data points suggest that though on average perceived productivity has not changed significantly, there are developers who report being more productive, and developers being less productive when working from home. Positively affected individuals in some surveys form large groups of respondents (up to 50%) and mention benefiting from a better organization of work, increased flexibility and focus. Yet, there are equally large groups of negatively affected respondents (up to 51%) who complain about the challenges related to remote teamwork and collaboration, as well as emotional issues, distractions and poor home office environment and equipment. Finally, positive trends are found in longitudinal surveys, i.e., developers’ productivity in the later months of the pandemic show better results than those in the earlier months. Conclusions: We conclude that behind the average “no change” lays a large variation of experiences, which means that the work from home might not be for everyone. Yet, a longitudinal analysis of the surveys is encouraging, as it shows that the more pessimistic results might be influenced by the initial experiences of an unprecedented crisis. At the end, we put forward the lessons learned during the pandemic that can inspire the new post-pandemic work policies. © 2021 The Authors

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier Inc., 2022
Keywords
COVID-19, Empirical study, Perceived productivity, Performance, Surveys, WFH, Work-from-home, Engineers, Software engineering, Empirical studies, Home office, Large groups, Natural experiment, Telework, Productivity
National Category
Software Engineering Occupational Health and Environmental Health Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:bth-22595 (URN)10.1016/j.jss.2021.111197 (DOI)000750027000014 ()2-s2.0-85123218412 (Scopus ID)
Funder
Knowledge Foundation, 20180010Knowledge Foundation, 20190087The Research Council of Norway, 267704, 309344
Note

open access

Available from: 2022-02-07 Created: 2022-02-07 Last updated: 2022-03-07Bibliographically approved
Šmite, D., Mikalsen, M., Moe, N. B., Stray, V. & Klotins, E. (2021). From Collaboration to Solitude and Back: Remote Pair Programming During COVID-19. In: Gregory P., Lassenius C., Wang X., Kruchten P. (Ed.), AGILE PROCESSES IN SOFTWARE ENGINEERING AND EXTREME PROGRAMMING (XP 2021): . Paper presented at 22nd International Conference on Agile Software Development, XP 2021, Virtual, Online, 14 June 2021 - 18 June 2021 (pp. 3-18). Springer Science and Business Media Deutschland GmbH
Open this publication in new window or tab >>From Collaboration to Solitude and Back: Remote Pair Programming During COVID-19
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2021 (English)In: AGILE PROCESSES IN SOFTWARE ENGINEERING AND EXTREME PROGRAMMING (XP 2021) / [ed] Gregory P., Lassenius C., Wang X., Kruchten P., Springer Science and Business Media Deutschland GmbH , 2021, p. 3-18Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Along with the increasing popularity of agile software development, software work has become much more social than ever. Contemporary software teams rely on a variety of collaborative practices, such as pair programming, the topic of our study. Many agilists advocated the importance of collocation, face-to-face interaction, and physical artefacts incorporated in the shared workspace, which the COVID-19 pandemic made unavailable; most software companies around the world were forced to send their engineers to work from home. As software projects and teams overnight turned into distributed collaborations, we question what happened to the pair programming practice in the work-from-home mode. This paper reports on a longitudinal study of remote pair programming in two companies. We conducted 38 interviews with 30 engineers from Norway, Sweden, and the USA, and used the results of a survey in one of the case companies. Our study is unique as we collected the data longitudinally in April/May 2020, Sep/Oct 2020, and Jan/Feb 2021. We found that pair programming has decreased and some interviewees report not pairing at all for almost a full year. The experiences of those who paired vary from actively co-editing the code by using special tools to more passively co-reading and discussing the code and solutions by sharing the screen. Finally, we found that the interest in and the use of PP over time, since the first months of the forced work from home to early 2021, has admittedly increased, also as a social practice. © 2021, The Author(s).

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer Science and Business Media Deutschland GmbH, 2021
Series
Lecture Notes in Business Information Processing, ISSN 1865-1348, E-ISSN 1865-1356 ; 419
Keywords
Agile, COVID-19, Distributed, Pair programming, Remote, WFH, Data processing, Agile software development, Collaborative practices, Distributed collaboration, Face-to-face interaction, Longitudinal study, Shared-workspace, Social practices, Software project, Software design
National Category
Software Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:bth-22011 (URN)10.1007/978-3-030-78098-2_1 (DOI)000724675400001 ()2-s2.0-85111360759 (Scopus ID)9783030780975 (ISBN)
Conference
22nd International Conference on Agile Software Development, XP 2021, Virtual, Online, 14 June 2021 - 18 June 2021
Funder
Knowledge Foundation, 20190087The Research Council of Norway, 309344
Note

open access

Available from: 2021-08-13 Created: 2021-08-13 Last updated: 2022-09-06Bibliographically approved
Principal InvestigatorŠmite, Darja
Coordinating organisation
Blekinge Institute of Technology
Funder
Period
2020-04-01 - 2023-03-31
National Category
Software Engineering
Identifiers
DiVA, id: project:2310Project, id: 20190087

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SCALEWISE