Human and social aspects seem to be important for software development companies that hope to succeed with “agile methods”.
This was one of the findings of SINTEF researchers Tore Dybå and Torgeir Dingsøyr in their hunt for potential success formulae for ICT companies that utilise such methodologies in system development.
“The traditional method of operation in software development was to set out guidelines for the project team by requiring them to utilise specialised tools. However, what we see is that the most successful groups are those that work out for themselves just how they will collaborate. In other words, group self-management looks to be an important criterion of success,” says the two researchers.
Group processes and -selfmanagement
Dingsøyr and Dybå emphasise that this method suits the Scandinavian style of organising working conditions.
On the one hand, “agile methods” require more coordination than traditional methods of software development, because user feedback is received more often than these methods, and this requires all parties to become involved in the development process. The two researchers do not deny that there is an element of risk in this aspect, but as they go on to point out:
“Traditionally, a strong leader would be responsible for checking results, but what we can see in groups that utilise agile methods is either that they allow several strong individuals to lead their own fields, or that coordination takes place via group processes.”
Tailor-made for Scandinavia
There is no tradition of this sort of process in the USA, where there is a clear divide between planners and decision-makers on the one hand and those who actually perform the development work on the other. Scandinavian companies are quite different in that they have more faith in the skills of individual workers and in their ability to do a good job,” say Dingsøyr and Dybå.
“Perhaps that is the reason why research in this field is so strong here in Norway,” conclude the two SINTEF researchers.
by Svein Tønseth