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Exploring Team Familiarity: The Effect of Geographical Dispersion on Scrum Teams
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Computing, Department of Software Engineering.
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Computing, Department of Software Engineering.
2023 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Context: In recent years, software development teams have been adopting agile methodologies like Scrum to enhance productivity and collaboration. However, with the outbreak of COVID-19, remote working conditions have become the new norm. This shift has posed a challenge for software development teams as they struggle to maintain the same level of productivity and collaboration while working remotely. Agile methodologies like Scrum, which emphasize teamwork, communication, and collaboration, are particularly affected by remote work conditions. One critical factor that affects agile teams’ effectiveness is team familiarity, which is the degree of mutual understanding among team members. High team familiarity can lead to better communication, coordination, and performance.

Objectives: The main aim of this research is to investigate the effects of geographical dispersion on team familiarity in Scrum teams due to pandemic restrictions. The research aims to identify the facets that contribute to the concept of team familiarity, investigate how geographical dispersion has affected team familiarity during the pandemic, and explore how Scrum practices have been impacted by changes in team familiarity under remote working conditions.

Methods: The research employed a literature review as a research method and interviews as a data collection technique. The first phase involved conducting a comprehensive literature review by analyzing various research papers using the forward snowballing technique to identify the facets contributing to the concept of team familiarity. In the second phase, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 software professionals from various software companies who had experience working in Scrum teams during the pandemic. The interview questions focused on how remote working conditions had affected team familiarity and Scrum practices. The data collected during the interviews were analyzed using a deductive thematic analysis, which guided the identification of common patterns and themes.

Results: From the literature review, nine facets of team familiarity were identified: Shared work experience, Communication, Team coordination, Team cohesion, Interpersonal knowledge, Shared knowledge, Trust, Team collaboration, and Member diversity. The interview data revealed that the geographical dispersion did pose a few challenges due to the remote work setup and had negatively affected team familiarity. The correlation between team familiarity facets and scrum practices was also explored, along with how they were affected due to geographical dispersion. However, the interviewees suggested several strategies to mitigate the challenges posed by geographical dispersion, such as regular communication and virtual team-building activities.  The results of the literature review were then compared with the interview results to determine the consistency of the findings. The comparison showed that most of the team familiarity facets identified in the literature review were also relevant to the interviewee's experiences. One important theme that emerged from the comparison of the literature review and interview findings is the interdependence of team familiarity facets, where a change in one facet could affect other facets as well. Trust and communication were found to be the most interconnected facets, with links to other team familiarity facets.

Conclusions: This research highlights the importance of team familiarity in Scrum teams and the effect of geographical dispersion on team familiarity. The study identified nine facets that contribute to the concept of team familiarity and discussed their interdependence. The research findings suggest that mitigation strategies can help maintain team familiarity under remote work conditions. It was also concluded that maintaining team familiarity is crucial for effective Scrum practices and team performance. Organizations should consider these factors while implementing Scrum practices in geographically dispersed teams. The study recommends further research to explore the impact of team familiarity on other aspects of team performance. Moreover, the scope of the research could be expanded to include other agile methodologies aside from Scrum. Additionally, investigating the role of leadership in promoting team familiarity and collaboration in geographically dispersed Scrum teams is another potential avenue for future research.

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2023. , p. 88
Keywords [en]
Team Familiarity, Geographical Dispersion, Agile Software Development, Scrum, Mitigation strategies, Interdependence, Literature review, Interviews.
National Category
Software Engineering
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:bth-24938OAI: oai:DiVA.org:bth-24938DiVA, id: diva2:1778828
Subject / course
PA2534 Master's Thesis (120 credits) in Software Engineering
Educational program
PAADA Master Qualification Plan in Software Engineering 120,0 hp
Presentation
2023-05-23, C245, Blekinge Tekniska Högskola, 371 79 Karlskrona, Sweden, Karlskrona, 09:00 (English)
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2023-07-03 Created: 2023-07-03 Last updated: 2023-07-03Bibliographically approved

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