The Future of Collaborative Development

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Software development field research has shown that shared group awareness, coordination and informal communication are the most common ways for software development teams to inform each other of progress. In addition, we have observed that poorly documented, informal communication causes a fragmented workday due to frequent interruptions and knowledge loss due to the passage of time and team attrition. Because informal communication has both advantages and disadvantages for information sharing, it merits deeper study to allow any proposed treatment to preserve the good while reducing the bad. Over the past several years, we have conducted a series of studies at Microsoft Corporation and beyond to document the nature of development team conversations and communications. Based on surveys, lab studies, field studies and interviews, we have begun to develop a suite of tools that allow development teams, both co-located and distributed, to stay more aware of their colleagues’ actions. 





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