Abstract

Large-scale software development requires coordination within and between very large engineering teams, each of which may be located in different locations and time zones. Numerous studies, and indeed, a whole conference (ICGSE), are dedicated to discovering the causes of problems with distributed development in the software industry. Microsoft has long had product teams too large to be considered co-located, even when sitting in neighboring buildings on the same campus. Recently, it has been expanding its engineering workforce into India and China, and our research is showing that Microsoft is encountering many of the coordination problems that go along with differences of location, time zone, and culture. As we go forward, our research has been changing from learning about the problem to experimenting with solutions. What are the best practices for improving coordination? Can they be applied to all software teams? How does one move past simple readings of research results towards effective intervention?