The project was approved by the DFG in 2018 and focuses with interdisciplinary questions on communication in software projects.
Interpret communication structures in software teams early with the help of forecasting models
||German Research Foundation (DFG)
||Jil Klünder, Fabian Kortum und Kurt Schneider
Software projects are carried out by teams. The communication in the team significantly influences the project's success, as many studies have shown. The dynamics of these socio-technical systems are challenging to understand and predict due to their complexity.
In TeamFLOW, the focus was on comparable software projects with a consistent and straightforward communication structure to better investigate relationships between parameters such as mood, media, or distance. In the extension, TeamDynamics is now about to overcome the associated limitations.
TeamDynamics will provide specific observation and analysis techniques so that software teams can collect data at a reasonable cost, model the structure of their communications, and use it for decision-making while the project is still running. The models should be psychologically valid and prepared in such a way that their results can be interpreted and used by software teams without psychological training.
In TeamDynamics, the relationships identified in TeamFLOW are to be generalized to more diverse software projects and laid the foundation for operational use. Due to their complexity, the evaluation has so far taken place only after the project has been completed (retrospectively). This was sufficient to gain insights, but could not be used for intervention during critical project phases. TeamDynamics will now investigate whether it is possible to collect, prepare, and interpret the required indicators during an ongoing project so that forecasts can be made during the project's lifetime.
In the TeamDynamics project, a diagnostic process is developed in an interdisciplinary manner to assess the communication and interaction in distributed software teams. The goal is for software teams to determine timely whether the project's success is at risk due to inadequate or inappropriate communication. Users of the process detect trends before they manifest themselves as detrimental to the project's success.
- The generalization to other project forms and communication structures: The student projects were very similar: they lasted the same length, had the same number of participants with similar background experience. In TeamDynamics, more substantial teams, distributed projects, and agile vs. plan-driven procedures are examined.
- Creation of more general forecast models to be able to forecast selected aspects of project dynamics at a very early stage. They go beyond student projects, simple communication structures, and defined procedure models.
- Instrument Development: Covers the transition from hypothesis testing to complex analysis processes to develop simplified techniques to make previously recognized relationships in decision-making projects operational.
JIRA Plugin: ProDynamics
Our recent achievement is a so-called ProDynamics-Plugin that is developed for the project managing software JIRA. The plugin uniquely combines concepts and methods from
- Social network and human factor analyses
- Data mining and predictive analytics
- Information transparency and visualization
All information is stored and processed within the JIRA system, which enables a user with an interactive feedback solution while no external tools or frameworks are required. The plugin is designed for teams with an open mentality for self-reflection in exchange for sustainable feedback that enables opportunities for change-driven improvements of organizational and development structures.
The retro- and futurespective information cover JIRA-project metrics (velocity, etc.) and subjective team responses from recurring self-assessments. Replies require an effort of 1-2 minutes and elicit manifested socio-technical features from psychology and software engineering, e.g., conflicts, communication, and the atmosphere during the last week. The assessments and team feedback becomes resolved and handled within JIRA, towards a minimal effort for managers.