Software Engineering-Coordination and Communication Issues

There are many reasons that software projects get into trouble. The scale of many development efforts is large, leading to complexity, confusion, and significant difficulties in coordinating team members. Uncertainty is common, resulting in a continuing stream of changes that ratchets the project team. Interoperability has become a key characteristic of many systems. New software must communicate with existing software and conform to predefined constraints imposed by the system or product.

These characteristics of modern software—scale, uncertainty, and interoperability— are facts of life. To deal with them effectively, a software engineering team must establish effective methods for coordinating the people who do the work. To accomplish this, mechanisms for formal and informal communication among team members and between multiple teams must be established. Formal communication is accomplished through “writing, structured meetings, and other relatively noninteractive and impersonal communication channels” . Informal communication is more personal. Members of a software team share ideas on an ad hoc basis, ask for help as problems arise, and interact with one another on a daily basis.

Kraul and Streeter examine a collection of project coordination techniques that are categorized in the following manner:
Formal, impersonal approaches include software engineering documents and deliverables (including source code), technical memos, project milestones, schedules, and project control tools , change requests and related documentation , error tracking reports, and repository data.

Formal, interpersonal procedures focus on quality assurance activities applied to software engineering work products. These include status review meetings and design and code inspections.

Informal, interpersonal procedures include group meetings for information dissemination and problem solving and “collocation of requirements and development staff.”

Electronic communication encompasses electronic mail, electronic bulletin boards, and by extension, video-based conferencing systems.

Interpersonal networking includes informal discussions with team members and those outside the project who may have experience or insight that can assist team members.
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