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Knowledge Management Strategies and Processes in Agile Software Development: A Systematic Literature Review
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Computing, Department of Software Engineering.
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Computing, Department of Software Engineering.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3567-9300
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Computing, Department of Software Engineering.
Chalmers, SWE.
2019 (English)In: International journal of software engineering and knowledge engineering, ISSN 0218-1940, Vol. 29, no 3, p. 345-380Article, review/survey (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Knowledge-intensive companies that adopt Agile Software Development (ASD) relay on efficient implementation of Knowledge Management (KM) strategies to promotes different Knowledge Processes (KPs) to gain competitive advantage. This study aims to explore how companies that adopt ASD implement KM strategies utilizing practices that promote the KPs in the different organizational layers. Through a systematic literature review, we analyzed 32 primary studies, selected by automated search and snowballing in the extant literature. To analyze the data, we applied narrative synthesis. Most of the identified KM practices implement personalization strategies (81 %), supported by codification (19 %). Our review shows that the primary studies do not report KM practices in the strategic layer and two of them in the product portfolio layer; on the other hand, in the project layer, the studies report 33 practices that implement personalization strategy, and seven practices that implement codification. KM strategies in ASD promote mainly the knowledge transfer process with practices that stimulate social interaction to share tacit knowledge in the project layer. As a result of using informal communication, a significant amount of knowledge can be lost or not properly transferred to other individuals and, instead of propagating the knowledge, it remains inside a few individuals minds.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
World Scientific, 2019. Vol. 29, no 3, p. 345-380
Keywords [en]
knowledge management, agile software development
National Category
Software Engineering
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:bth-17336DOI: 10.1142/S0218194019500153ISI: 000462508200002OAI: oai:DiVA.org:bth-17336DiVA, id: diva2:1265957
Available from: 2018-11-26 Created: 2018-11-26 Last updated: 2023-08-18Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Understanding and Supporting Knowledge Management in Agile Software Development
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Understanding and Supporting Knowledge Management in Agile Software Development
2019 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

 Background. Agile Software Development (ASD) promises agility and flexibility in dealing with uncertainty by prioritizing interaction between people supported by informal communication and knowledge sharing. The lack of practices to manage the knowledge as a resource might jeopardize the application of knowledge in the production of goods and service. The utilization of Knowledge Management (KM) strategies can significantly support achieving and sustaining competitive advantage and brings several benefits to software development. However, how to manage knowledge in ASD is still not well understood or investigated.

 Objectives. The main objective of this thesis is to contribute to the software engineering field by providing a different perspective on directions that KM can take to improve knowledge-based resource (KBR) management in ASD. The detailed objectives are: (i) Understand the current ASD environment regarding KM; (ii) Identify KBRs in ASD and its implications for KM; and (iii) Provide an initial set of variables to evaluate knowledge criticality of knowledge items in ASD.

 Method. We used a mixed-methods approach to address the objective of this thesis. The methods selected to conduct the studies include systematic literature review, grounded theory, and improvement case study. The data collection comprised a literature review, semi-structured interviews, and practitioners’ feedback through static validation.

 Results. From our SLR we observed that that KM strategies in ASD promote mainly knowledge transfer through practices that stimulate social interaction to share tacit knowledge in the project layer, increasing the risk of losing knowledge by keeping the knowledge localized inside a few individual’s minds. When it comes to coordination, practitioners utilize KBRs in their routines, through social collaboration within teams’ environment/settings. However, this process is nonsystematic, which brings inefficiency to KBR utilization resulting in knowledge loss. It can generate negative implications to the course of the software development, including meaningless searches in databases, frustration because of recurrent problems, and unawareness of knowledge sources. To support decision making related to knowledge retention, we have developed an initial version of the method to evaluate the criticality (KCEM) of a knowledge item, which is divided into two categories, relevance, and scarcity.

 Conclusion. The current results of this thesis are of particular interest. However, we recognize that the work is unfinished. As a complement to this thesis, we have planned our long-term objective, which is to contribute to creating scalable KM solutions for companies adopting ASD.We divide this long-term objective into three studies: Carry out a complementary study to apply KCEM in different companies; explore efficient ways of storing codified knowledge in combination with the KCEM, and investigate how to define metrics to evaluate the outcomes of KM practices.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlskrona: Blekinge Tekniska Högskola, 2019. p. 144
Series
Blekinge Institute of Technology Licentiate Dissertation Series, ISSN 1650-2140 ; 10
Keywords
Knowledge Management, Agile Software Development, Knowledge resource
National Category
Computer Systems
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:bth-18509 (URN)978-91-7295-380-2 (ISBN)
Presentation
2019-09-11, Karlskrona, 09:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Projects
S.E.R.T.E.R.T. Research Profile
Available from: 2019-08-02 Created: 2019-08-01 Last updated: 2019-09-03Bibliographically approved
2. Managing Knowledge Resources in Agile Software Development
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Managing Knowledge Resources in Agile Software Development
2023 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Context: Many software companies adopt Agile Software Development (ASD) principles through various methods, aiming to respond rapidly to market changes or internal transformations. Agile principles prioritise informal communication between people over documentation to bring more flexibility and readiness when welcoming changes, posing pressure on how knowledge, a strategic resource, is shared and applied. Many knowledge resources remain intangible in these contexts, which poses challenges to resource management because knowledge is difficult to reproduce and manage, requiring lots of effort to understand what should remain tacit and what should be captured explicitly as artefacts. 

Objective: This thesis aims to contribute to a better understanding of knowledge resources in agile software project environments and provide guidance on effectively managing them. 

Method: We follow mostly a qualitative approach to investigate knowledge resource management. We adhere to social constructivism research, which notes that social phenomena undergo constant changes and are affected by human interaction. As qualitative and quantitative methods of investigation, we utilised literature reviews, grounded theory, survey and a case study.

Results: This thesis provides an empirical understanding of how knowledge resources are used in practice and what hinders their effective management in ASD environments. More specifically, we focus on Property-based Resources (PBRs) such as Boundary Artefacts (BAs), examining inefficiencies in their content management and providing recommendations. We synthesised evidence from the literature to show the proportions of knowledge management practices utilised in ASD environments and the knowledge process they focus on. Through a grounded theory study, we identified Knowledge-based Resources (KBRs) that support changes in agile environments in the Knowledge-push theory. In this same study, we identified inefficiencies in converting KBRs into PBRs. This evidence led us to a case study in which we investigated the causes and effects of trust in BAs. The results have contributed to understanding the favourable factors that make stakeholders feel confident in utilising BAs and also pointed to the implication of decreased trust in software projects. Such negative implications can be mitigated by applying our developed and validated guideline that supports the creation of BAs in software engineering, which was perceived as being able to increase the trustworthiness of BAs. Lastly, in a concise format, we gathered the evidence that we collected through this doctoral journey and offered a simplified discussion about knowledge resources in an agile context. We explore their types, challenges and potential solutions to effectively manage knowledge, especially what is stored in artefacts.

Conclusions: We clarify the concept of KBRs, identify them, and explain how they support changes in agile contexts. In this process, we uncover the inefficiencies in converting KBRs into PBRs. We also provide guidance on effectively managing knowledge resources in software project environments, which can be helpful for software organisations. For example, (i) understanding how trust aspects such as reliability, predictability, and functionality affect practitioners' confidence in BAs, (ii) providing a structured guideline that helps practitioners create BAs, (iii) incorporating more formal practices to manage BAs that do not necessarily abandon agile flexibility to deal with changes. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlskrona: Blekinge Tekniska Högskola, 2023
Series
Blekinge Institute of Technology Doctoral Dissertation Series, ISSN 1653-2090 ; 14
Keywords
Knowledge Management, Agile Software Development, Knowledge Resource, Boundary Artefacts
National Category
Software Engineering
Research subject
Software Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:bth-25299 (URN)978-91-7295-467-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2023-10-05, J1360, Karlskrona, 14:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2023-08-21 Created: 2023-08-18 Last updated: 2023-09-18Bibliographically approved

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Ouriques, RaquelWnuk, KrzysztofGorschek, Tony

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