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27

Project log

Fabian Kortum
added a research item
The complexity of software projects and inherent customer demands is becoming increasingly challenging for developers and managers. Human factors in the development process are growing in importance. Consequently, understanding team dynamics is a central aspect of steady development planning and execution. Despite the many available management systems and development tools that are being continuously improved to support teams and managers with practical process information, the equally crucial sociological aspects have typically been addressed insufficiently or not at all. In people-focused agile software processes, a first socio-technical understanding can also be promoted by sharing positive and negative development experiences during specific team meetings (e.g., sprint Retrospectives). Nevertheless, there is still a lack of systematically recorded and processed socio-technical information in software projects, making it difficult for subsequent reviews by teams and managers to characterize and understand the sometimes volatile and complex team dynamics during the process. This thesis strives to support teams and managers in understanding and improving awareness of the team dynamics that occur in their agile software projects by introducing computer-aided sprint feedback. The concept builds on four information assets: (1) socio-technical data monitoring, (2) descriptive sprint feedback, (3) predictive sprint feedback, and (4) exploratory sprint planning. These assets unify interdisciplinary fundamentals, practical methods from software engineering, data science, organizational and social psychology. Using a design science research process for information systems, observations in several conducted studies (32 in academic project environments and three in industry) resulted in the foundations and methods for a practical feedback concept on the socio-technical aspects in sprint, prototypically realized for Jira. A practical evaluation involved two industry projects in an action research methodology that helped improve the concept’s usability and utility through practitioner reflections. The collaboration between industry and research resolved practical issues that did not arise during the design science process. Several beneficial outcomes based on the provided sprint feedback are reported and described in this study (e.g., the effect of team structures on development performance). Moreover, the reflections underscored the practical relevance of systematic feedback and the need to better understand human factors in the software development process.
Jil Klünder
added a research item
In software projects, a continuous exchange of information among team members is necessary to ensure a successful project. Meetings support this information exchange because they enable team members to share information simultaneously with all other team members. However, teams often get lost in endless discussions or developers do not gain a real benefit from a meeting. Consequently, participants are often frustrated by meetings. This leads to a negative mood and the project is endangered. To ensure the quality of information exchange and to prevent frustrated developers, meetings have to be assessed periodically. We ask the participants about their perception during a meeting because participants' satisfaction with the outcome is essential for project success. Hence, the definition of a good meeting bases on effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction. In order to measure perceived meeting success, we developed a feedback method and a tool applying it. To validate the method, we conducted a case study during two meetings and compared our results to an objective analysis. During the case study, our feedback method showed the advantages over the compared behavior-based approach. Using our method, teams can easily gather feedback about their meeting and decide whether future meetings need an improvement or can be abandoned. So the method helps teams to find the right manner of communication in meetings and to reduce the developers' frustration. CCS CONCEPTS • Software and its engineering → Programming teams; Software creation and management; Software development process management ; • Social and professional topics → Project and people management; • Human-centered computing → Collaborative and social computing design and evaluation methods;
Jil Klünder
added a research item
In Requirements Engineering, a lot of communication takes place in conversations and meetings, such as workshops, focus groups, interviews, and review sessions. Research has shown that interactions in meetings influence the group affect after the meeting-and hence the participants' motivation for (further) contributing to the project. However, it remains unclear, how positive affect can be achieved. In this vision paper, we propose to analyze interactions in meetings to find relations between the participants' behavior and affect afterwards. This allows to identify "good" behavior in meetings to smooth the way to satisfied project team members and successful projects.
Fabian Kortum
added a research item
Fast feedback promotes agile teams to improve their work during the software process, making it crucial for team success. Information systems accelerate the availability of information that result in compact knowledge sources. In practice, feedback in Sprints is often limited to sole progress and performance measures, e.g., burndown charts or velocity diagrams. Sprint insights related to team dynamics are rarely considered, even though they frequently cause project failures, e.g., lack of social interaction. In this paper, we describe a survey study conducted with international members of the software engineering community to reveal which information helps agile teams the most and provides practical support in Sprints. We describe results in an experience report highlighting the frequent information problems and needs of agile teams, considering the perspective of 90 researchers and practitioners. The responses were quantitatively interpreted. The report promotes understanding about how or what kind of information would be useful for agile development teams. Moreover, it reveals what information problems were perceived as crucial for project success and avoidable, considering proper team feedback. The study endorses practical needs for system-aided feedback that supplies knowledge on the human factors in Sprints. The findings are relevant for practitioners and researchers that struggle on improving team feedback based on information needs.
Jil Klünder
added a research item
Software development is a very cooperative and communicative task. In most software projects, meetings are a very important medium to share information. However, these meetings are often not as effective as expected. One big issue hindering productive and satisfying meetings is inappropriate behavior such as complaining. In particular, talking about problems without at least trying to solve them decreases motivation and mood of the team. Interaction analyses in meetings allow the assessment of appropriate and inappropriate behavior influencing the quality of a meeting. Derived from an established interaction analysis coding scheme in psychology, we present act4teams-SHORT which allows real-time coding of meetings in software projects. We apply act4teams-SHORT in an industrial case study at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, a large German company in the automotive domain. We analyze ten team-internal meetings at early project stages. Our results reveal difficulties due to missing project structure and the overall project goal. Furthermore, the team has an intrinsic interest in identifying problems and solving them, without any extrinsic input being required.
Fabian Kortum
added a research item
In agile software development, proper team structures and sprint estimations are crucial aspects to reach high-performance outcomes. Performance can vary due to the influence of social-driven team factors. Resulting in team dynamics with the focus on human factors are usually difficult to capture and thus often not monitored. However, their impact can impede the planning and fulfillment of sprints. Data on team behavior should be simplified to track, analyze, and interpret as sprint influences are important to understand. We provide a centralized solution that extends JIRA functionally and continuously captures sprint characteristics in the daily working environment of teams. In this paper, we describe a JIRA plugin that enables the assessment of team behavior in combination with exploratory analyses. The tool became approached with six software projects and a total of 53 undergraduate students. Characterizations made with the plugin can reveal sprint and team dynamics over time, involving development performance and team-related measures. The feature comes with a feedback mechanism for teams that visualize and implicates the sprint dependencies. The approach reveals a set of team-related sprint dynamics, its systematically capturing, and characterization. With the achieved solution, team leader and developer can be supported to understand the ongoing sprint and team-driven dynamics better. Thus, they can keep track of their habits for future sprint planning and team adjustment impacts.
Fabian Kortum
added 2 research items
Agile software development teams strive for fast and continuous feedback. Both the quality of the resulting software and the performance of the team require feedback. The performance of the team developments is often addressed in retrospectives which are not only part of the SCRUM framework, but also in general. Reflecting on incidents during the last sprint helps the team to increase performances, expressed by, e.g., efficiency and productivity. However, it is not only essential to identify volatile sprint performances, but also to characterize the primary cause to solve them. Main reasons for low performance are often not visible, primarily when they are related to socialdriven team behavior, such as communication structures, mood, or satisfaction. In this paper, we analyze whether automated team feedback about retrospective sprint-behavior can help the team to increase performances due to additional awareness about the dynamic effects over time. In a comparative case study with 15 software projects and a total of 130 undergraduate students, we investigated the sustainable impact of feedback on human aspects. Our results indicate that automated feedback positively affects team performances – and customer satisfaction.
Software projects are dominated by meetings. For participants, not all meetings are useful and enjoyable. However, interaction within a meeting has an impact on individual and group affects. Group affect influences team performance and project success. Despite frequent yet vague dissatisfaction with some meetings, many software engineers are not aware of the crucial importance of their behavior in those meetings. This can set the tone for the entire project. By influencing group affect, meeting interaction influences success without participants even noticing. Due to this lack of awareness, it depends on good or bad luck whether software teams will adopt a promising meeting style. In a study of 32 student projects with 155 participants, we coded fine-grained interaction elements during the first internal meeting of each team. The analysis of resulting codes showed that constructive remarks had a positive impact on positive group affect tone (PGAT). However, this effect was only observed when constructive remarks were followed by supportive utterances. We were able to show a complete mediation of this statistically significant effect. Seemingly subtle behavior patterns influence group affect. Software projects could significantly benefit from supportive meeting behavior. We propose practical interventions to improve meeting quality.
Fabian Kortum
added a research item
Software process improvement is a very important topic. Almost all companies and organizations face the necessity for improvement sooner or later. Sometimes, there is obvious potential for improvement (e.g., if the number of developers does not fit the project size). Nonetheless, fixing all obvious issues does not necessarily lead to a “perfect” project. There are a lot of interdependencies between project parameters that are difficult to detect – sometimes due to the influences of social aspects which can be hardly grasped.