Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 31105
Communication and Quality in Distributed Agile Development: An Empirical Case Study

Authors: R. Green, T. Mazzuchi, S. Sarkani


Through inward perceptions, we intuitively expect distributed software development to increase the risks associated with achieving cost, schedule, and quality goals. To compound this problem, agile software development (ASD) insists one of the main ingredients of its success is cohesive communication attributed to collocation of the development team. The following study identified the degree of communication richness needed to achieve comparable software quality (reduce pre-release defects) between distributed and collocated teams. This paper explores the relevancy of communication richness in various development phases and its impact on quality. Through examination of a large distributed agile development project, this investigation seeks to understand the levels of communication required within each ASD phase to produce comparable quality results achieved by collocated teams. Obviously, a multitude of factors affects the outcome of software projects. However, within distributed agile software development teams, the mode of communication is one of the critical components required to achieve team cohesiveness and effectiveness. As such, this study constructs a distributed agile communication model (DAC-M) for potential application to similar distributed agile development efforts using the measurement of the suitable level of communication. The results of the study show that less rich communication methods, in the appropriate phase, might be satisfactory to achieve equivalent quality in distributed ASD efforts.

Keywords: Software Development, media richness theory, agile software development (ASD), distributedsoftware teams

Digital Object Identifier (DOI):

Procedia APA BibTeX Chicago EndNote Harvard JSON MLA RIS XML ISO 690 PDF Downloads 1790


[1] R. Baskerville, R. Balasubramaniam, L. Levina, J. Pries-Heje, and S. Slaughter, "Is internet-speed software development different?," IEEE Software, vol. 20, no. 6, pp. 70-77, 2003.
[2] B. Boehm, "Get ready for agile methods, with care," Computer, vol. 35, no. 1, pp. 64, Jan. 2002.
[3] E. Carmel and R. Agarwal, "Tactical approaches for alleviating distance in global software development," IEEE Software, vol. 18, no. 2, pp. 22- 29, Mar. 2001.
[4] R. L. Daft and R. H. Lengel, "Organizational information requirements, media richness and structural design," Management Science, vol. 32, no. 5, pp. 554-571, May 1986.
[5] R. L. Daft, R. H. Lengel, and L. K. Trevino, "Message equivocality, media selection, and manager performance: Implications for information systems," MIS Quarterly, vol. 11, no. 3, pp. 355-366, Sept. 1987.
[6] J. Galbraith, Strategies of Organizational Design, Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1973.
[7] J. Highsmith and A. Cockburn, "Agile software development: the business of innovation," IEEE Computer, 2001.
[8] P. Hinds and S. Kiesler, Eds., Distributed Work. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2002.
[9] C. Larman, Agile & Iterative Development: A Manager-s Guide. Boston, MA: Addison-Wesley, 2004.
[10] A. MacCormack, R. Verganti, and M. Iansiti, "Developing products on internet time: the anatomy of a flexible development process," Management Science, Jan 2001.
[11] R. Pressman, Software Engineering: A Practioner-s Approach, 2nd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1987.
[12] R. Ram, "Is your IT project OA?," InformationWeek, pp. 162, November 29, 1999.
[13] The Standish Group International, Inc. (2009). "Extreme chaos."
[Online]. Available: me_chaos.pdf (accessed August 13, 2009).
[14] S. Townsend, "Over the waterfall," ITNow, vol. 49, no. 1, pp. 9, 2007.
[15] C. Vrasidas and M. S. McIsaac, "Principles of pedagogy and evaluation for web-based learning," Educational Media International, vol. 37, no. 2, pp. 105-111, 2000.
[16] K. Schwaber and M. Beedle, "Agile software development with Scrum," in Series in agile software development, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2002, pp. xvi-158.
[17] K. Schwaber, Agile project management with Scrum. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Press, 2004.
[18] R. Holler (2006). "Mobile application development: a natural fit with agile methodologies."
[Online]. Available: (accessed June 2009).
[19] "Manifesto for agile software development." (2001)
[Online]. Available:
[20] E. Carmel, Global Software Teams: Collaboration Across Borders and Time Zones. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1999.
[21] M. Mah, How Agile Projects Measure Up, and What This Means to You. Arlington, MA: Cutter Consortium, 2008.
[22] R. Barkhi, V. S. Jacob, and H. Pirkul, "An experimental analysis of face to face versus computer mediated communication channels," Group Decision and Negotiation, vol. 8, pp. 325-347, 1999.