Suitability of Agile Methodology in Globally Distributed Software Development : A Case Study

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Title: Suitability of Agile Methodology in Globally Distributed Software Development : A Case Study
Author: Akbas, Suleyman
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Science
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2019
Language: eng
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: Tietojenkäsittelytiede
Abstract: This thesis investigates the suitability of agile methodology in distributed software development. This is done by first identifying the challenges of distributed software development which are, by the reviewed literature, communication and collaboration, decrease in teamness feeling, architectural and technical challenges, and decreased visibility for the project status. Then, the thesis presents the agile methodology with its two methods, namely Scrum and Extreme Programming (XP). Thirdly, the benefits and the challenges of applying the agile methodology in distributed software development are determined. Findings from literature are tested versus a case study which was done in a globally distributed software development team who had worked on an important project in a multinational private software company. The data collection methods were the participant-observation done by the author as a part of the team, author’s notes on the critical events, and also the semi-structured interviews done with the team members from different roles and different teams. Empirical results show that agile methodology, more specifically Scrum and XP, helps with many aspects in distributed software development, which include increased communication and collaboration, improved visibility for the project status, and also increased the sense of trust within the team. It is also discovered that agile methodology helps with onboarding new people to the team. Furthermore, limited documentation in agile methodology and virtual pair programming do not affect the distributed teams negatively according to empirical evidence. Finally, empirical data also shows that applying agile methodology in distributed software development has some challenges such as the number of meetings. Empirical results show resemblance with the reviewed literature in many parts such as increased communication and collaboration as a benefit of distributed agile software development. However, there are also some aspects contradicting the reviewed literature. For example, limited documentation appears as a challenge of distributed agile development in the reviewed literature, whereas it did not seem to be a challenge in the empirical case. Furthermore, this study can be extended by observing other empirical cases, notably failed projects, not only in software development but also in other fields.

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