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Keywords:

  • communication;
  • information flow;
  • knowledge management;
  • global software engineering;
  • distributed software development

Abstract

Communication is a key success factor of distributed software projects. Poor communication has been identified as a main obstacle to successful collaboration. Global projects are especially endangered by information gaps between collaborating sites. Different communication styles, technical equipment, and missing awareness of each other can cause severe problems. Knowledge about actual and desired channels, paths, and modes of communication is required for improving communication in a globally distributed project. However, many project participants know little about communication and information flow in their projects. In this contribution, we focus on knowledge about communication and information flow. It is acquired by modelling on-going and desired flows of information, including documented and non-documented channels of information flow. We analyzed a distributed software project from the information flow perspective. Based on the findings, we developed specific techniques to improve information flow in distributed software development according to the FLOW Method. In a second distributed project, we evaluated one of the techniques. We found the FLOW mapping technique to be suitable for effectively spreading knowledge about communication and information flow in global software projects.