IfI Colloquium: On an Interdisciplinary Empirical Study of Communication, Team Spirit, and Project Success, April 06, 2017

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Kurt Schneider
Leibniz Universität Hannover, Germany

Date: Thursday, April 06, 2017, 17:15 h

Location: BIN 2.A.01


Communication is essential for the success of a software project: Requirements need to be elicited, documented, and design decisions must be spread within a software development team. However, there are symptoms indicating weakening communication, inappropriate communication media, or unsatisfactory information flow. The TeamFLOW project is an interdisciplinary endeavor among software engineers and psychologists, investigating relationships between team spirit, communication behavior, and several aspects of success. By understanding those relationships better, we want to enable project leaders and teams to anticipate problems earlier, by observing key indicators. Prediction and warnings based on communication and team spirit can help keeping a project on track.
In this talk, the main assumptions and hypotheses of the TeamFLOW project are described; key findings are presented, and the research methodology is discussed. TeamFLOW unfolds in two phases: During the current phase, a rather large set of homogenous and comparable student projects is used. Due to the similarity of most variables, the impact of varying communication structures and behaviors can be recognized better. Research methods of software engineers and psychologists needed to be combined and adjusted to the specific situation. Some of the findings will be presented and discussed, such as the role of more or less indirect communication; for example, the concept of “FLOW distance” captures the idea that some teams seem to drift apart, with detrimental consequences for their projects. In the second phase, finding from the homogenous set of projects will be extended towards bigger, more distributed or agile projects with different communication structures.


Kurt Schneider is a full professor of software engineering at Leibniz Universität Hannover, Germany. He studied computer science in Erlangen, received his Doctoral degree from the university of Stuttgart, and held a Postdoctoral position at the interdisciplinary Center for LifeLong Learning and Design at the University of Colorado at Boulder, USA. From 1996 to 2003, he was a researcher and manager at the Daimler Research Center in Ulm, Germany. He conducted research projects with several business units and was the Daimler lead of the international Software Experience Center (SEC) consortium of companies. Since his appointment as professor in 2003, Kurt Schneider´s research interests focus on requirements engineering, effective information flow and communication in software projects, as well as agile and hybrid approaches to software development.