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«This research has been partially sponsored by the Dutch Joint Academic and Commer- cial Quality Research & Development (Jacquard) program on Software ...»

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The architectural knowledge management practices we contribute are aimed at overcoming distance involved in GSD; distance in the various ways in which it manifests itself in GSD. The physical distance can be overcome because most, if not all, of the practices can be at least partly supported by tooling such as instant messaging, wikis, and other collaboration tooling. Other practices, focusing on frequent interaction across sites (face to face project kickoff, cross-site delegation, and a collocated high-level architecture phase) actually bridge the physical distance and time difference between the development sites to address the socio-cultural distance and to build trust. When a situation is reached in which the sites involved in a GSD project perceive each other and act as “peers”, we can conclude that all forms of distance are overcome in at least a sufficient way so that the GSD challenges are addressed and the full benefits of GSD can be reaped.

10.2 Discussion In this section, we provide a discussion of the results of this thesis. In §10.2.1 we provide directions to other fields of interest that are related to the research performed.

In §10.2.

2 we reflect on the contributions as described in this thesis. Finally, in §10.2.3 we provide a discussion on several advances in the field that may be further fueled by our research and call for additional research efforts.

10.2.1 Linking to other adjacent fields When put in a broader perspective, the results of the research presented in this thesis relate to the concept of boundary spanning, as identified in the information systems’ literature (Tushman, 1977; Allen, 1977; Nochur and Allen, 1992; Levina and Vaast, 2005a).

Boundary spanning is emphasized by the literature as relying on individuals (i.e., the boundary spanners) to facilitate the sharing of expertise by linking two or more groups of people separated by location, hierarchy, or function (Cross and Parker, 2004). Interestingly, the literature emphasized the importance of designating boundary spanning roles, such as “representative” versus “gatekeeper” and “advice” versus “trust broker”.

142 10.2. Discussion

Our research supports and further details the views on boundary spanning put forward by Levina and Vaast in that we provide a series of practices that either focus on the boundary spanner or on the boundary object – boundary spanners are individuals that facilitate the sharing of expertise by linking two or more groups of people separated by location, hierarchy, or function (Cross and Parker, 2004); a boundary object is the object through which (codified) knowledge is exchanged (Wenger, 1998), e.g., via organizations’ intranets or repositories. In our research, we have shown that global software development organizations involved in the management of architectural knowledge tend to place more emphasis on personalization strategies, emphasizing the importance of the boundary spanner, rather than codification strategies, emphasizing the importance of the boundary object. Nevertheless, as pointed out by (Levina and Vaast, 2005a), it is not only important to appoint a boundary spanner but also to monitor how the practitioners enact their roles. This notion is reflected in the emergence of agile GSD which is not so much focused on designated hierarchy in terms of (reporting) responsibilities, but rather focuses on the actual collaboration – aimed at uncovering (hidden, tacit) knowledge necessary to overcome GSD challenges and speed up software development.

Oshri et al. (2008) define a series of practices or mechanisms that show close resemblance to the work described in this thesis: having personalized directories, standardized templates or work processes, frequent teleconferencing sessions, and occasional short visits all contribute to the notion of ‘who knows what’. The results of Oshri et al. are directly supported by our research, including the focus on personalization practices and the results found at e.g., Organization E. Kotlarsky et al. (2009), finally, indicate that activating a transactive memory system helps in bridging knowledge boundaries across geographic borders. Furthermore, Kotlarsky et al. show that a transactive memory system relies to a greater extent on personalized directories than on codified directories – personalized directories mainly residing in people’s heads.

10.2.2 Reflections on our contributions One may object to the results presented in this thesis that they mainly focus on sound collaboration and are not really architecture-specific. Mainly, the architectural knowledge management practices that support a personalization strategy towards knowledge management could be referred to as common sense, whereas the practices that support a codification strategy and e.g., the architectural rules cover the real ‘architectural part’.

Perhaps, this is true. Our research, however, shows that better architectural knowledge management can be achieved by focusing on process and personalization practices: the practices are deemed useful especially because they aren’t used but needed. Process practices that are in use prove valuable (see e.g., the results observed at Organization D and Organization E) and in fact can be easily supported by tools that support collaboration across borders. In other words, not the availability of shared architecture tooling is important, but rather tooling that is focused on collaboration and communication across development sites.

In other words, the main difference appears to exist not so much in the details of the

architectural knowledge itself but rather in the process by means of which the knowledge is managed across development sites. Surely, the process practices concern archi


14310. Conclusions

tectural knowledge. Our results require the architect to fully embrace the architectural knowledge management practices and behave and act accordingly. As Booch (2011) puts it, although “The best architecture is (... ) one that structures the technical core (... )”, he finds that “However, the social elements of growing software-intensive systems are much, much messier”.

10.2.3 A glance at the future This research aims to unite the disciplines of architectural knowledge management and global software development. As this thesis has shown, no single project management or software development method is presupposed in order to address challenges in GSD by sound management of architectural knowledge. Rather, our research points to several practices that can be applied in certain contexts to overcome the challenges. Several literature sources (see e.g., §1.2.7) report that a greater emphasis on documentation (codification) and tooling that supports a codification strategy towards knowledge management is necessary when software development organizations are involved in GSD.

Our studies, however, support the urge to use codification practices only to a limited extent; more emphasis is needed for personalization practices as compared to codification practices. We acknowledge that the context in which the practices are applied, may differ. In our research, we primarily validated the use of the architectural knowledge management practices in an organization involved in agile GSD. A change of context does require a reassessment of the applicability of the practices, as was discussed during the recent IFIP WG 2.10 meeting. We see two future developments linked to these research results on that are of interest.

First, although we show that personalization practices can be used to share knowledge, one should ask himself whether this scales perpetually. Recall Parnas’ remark in ˚ the sidebar in (Agerfalk and Fitzgerald, 2006); when turning to GSD, choosing the right order in which to implement more codification-oriented practices and personalizationoriented practices is important. We support ideas for developing a pattern-like cookbook that, based on organizational, cultural, and possibly technological factors that are currently not fully understood, may help in deciding what architectural knowledge management practice to apply when. We are led to believe that our list of practices and the insights obtained during this study can serve as a useful starting point.

Second, one may regard the role of professionals and individuals to become even of greater importance; not so much to retain or capture the technical knowledge about the architecture itself, but rather to show the actual behaviour, willingness, and competences to stand out as an architectin effectively sharing and managing architectural knowledge across time zones and borders. As these competences are becoming increasingly important, future research may be dedicated to identify the DNA of a true global software architect.

–  –  –

Figure A.8: Have a single repository for architecture artifacts (establish a repository for architecture artifacts) N = 88, ρ = -0.088, p-value= 0.415

–  –  –

Het beheren van architectuurkennis in wereldwijde softwareontwikkeling Het vakgebied dat zich bezighoudt met het op een beheerste wijze ontwikkelen van software wordt ook wel ‘software engineering’ genoemd. Twee recente ontwikkelingen in dit vakgebied betreffen de begrippen ‘architectuurkennis’ en ‘global software development’. Onder ‘architectuurkennis’ verstaan we de ge¨ntegreerde representatie ı van de architectuur van een systeem of een familie van systemen, de ontwerpbeslissingen en de externe context. Het beheren van architectuurkennis leidt tot meer inzicht in de afwegingen van de softwarearchitect, voorkomt het optreden van ‘design-erosie’ en vergemakkelijkt het doorvoeren van wijzigingen aan het systeem. Wereldwijde softwareontwikkeling oftewel ‘global software development’ (GSD) betreft de ontwikkeling van software waarbij teams vanuit geografisch verspreide locaties samenwerken. Wan´´ neer we dit vergelijken met softwareontwikkeling die op een locatie plaatsvindt, leidt GSD tot enkele additionele uitdagingen. Deze uitdagingen vinden hun oorsprong in de afstand: de fysieke afstand, de afstand in tijd (tijdsverschil) en de socio-culturele afstand (cultuur en taal).

Binnen het GRIFFIN-onderzoeksproject, waar dit proefschrift een resultaat van is, hebben industri¨ le en academische partners onderzoek verricht naar betere hulpmiddee len en ondersteuning voor het beheren van architectuurkennis. In het onderzoeksproject zijn diverse perspectieven onderkend, zoals het delen van architectuurkennis binnen en tussen organisaties, het ontdekken van relevante architectuurkennis in bestaande systemen en documentatie, het traceren van de relaties en verbanden tussen ontwerpbeslissingen en andere onderdelen van architectuurkennis en, ten slotte, het delen en beheren van architectuurkennis in een GSD-situatie met daarin specifieke aandacht voor het perspectief van compliance. Dit proefschrift richt zich op het onderzoek naar dit laatste perspectief en geeft antwoord op de vraag hoe architectuurkennis beheerd kan worden in een GSD-situatie.

Ons onderzoek baseert zich op diverse studies die bij verschillende industri¨ le parte ners zijn uitgevoerd. Om inzicht te verkrijgen in de wijze waarop architectuurkennis in de praktijk wordt gebruikt, hebben wij een initi¨ le studie uitgevoerd onder de Nedere landse IT-architectengemeenschap zoals deze werkzaam is bij diverse toonaangevende IT-organisaties, -afdelingen, of -platformgroepen in Nederland. We hebben inzicht verkregen in de mogelijke redenen waarom IT-architecten architectuurkennis gebruiken.

Deze studie heeft aangetoond dat IT-architecten voornamelijk architectuurkennis gebruiken om gericht een oplossing voor een ontwerpprobleem (het te ontwerpen systeem) na te streven. Architectuurkennis wordt, volgens de studie, in beperkte mate gezien als een verzameling ontwerpbeslissingen waarin discrepanties, inconsistenties of openstaande issues kunnen worden herkend. Evenmin gebruiken de IT-architecten de kennis voor het valideren van de architectuur en de ontwerpbeslissingen.

Een tweede studie is uitgevoerd bij een organisatie die op vier verschillende, geografisch verspreide locaties software ontwikkelt en waar een centraal gesitueerd team architectuurrichtlijnen - een specifieke vorm van architectuurbeslissingen - uitvaardigt

151Het beheren van architectuurkennis in wereldwijde softwareontwikkeling

voor ontwikkelteams op andere locaties. Deze studie resulteerde in procesmatige aanbevelingen om de architectuurregels beter te laten beklijven bij de ontvangende teams.

Een vervolgstudie, waarin wij deze organisatie hebben vergeleken met een andere organisatie, bevestigde ons inzicht dat met name procesmaatregelen uitkomst bieden: actieve communicatie van architectuurrichtlijnen over verschillende locaties, het registreren van afwijkingen van de richtlijnen en expliciete verificatie van conformiteit aan deze richtlijnen.

Aangezien het beheren van architectuurkennis niet slechts door oplossingen die procesmatig van aard zijn ondersteund hoeft te worden, richtte een volgende studie zich op de vraag of er ook in de ontwikkelde producten zoals broncode en (systeemdocumentatie architectuurkennis kan worden vastgelegd. Hiertoe zijn acht uitgevoerde productbeoordelingen in retrospectief bekeken om vast te stellen hoe architectuurkennis in het product wordt vastgelegd. Voorts is onderzocht of er verschillen bestaan in het ´´ vastleggen van architectuurkennis in producten die op een enkele site ontwikkeld zijn versus producten die met GSD zijn ontwikkeld. Dit onderzoek gaf ons het inzicht dat tussen beide categorie¨ n producten geen verschil bestaat in de mate waarin architece tuurkennis in het product wordt vastgelegd.

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