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BARRIERS SURROUNDING KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER IN NON-COLLOCATED SOFTWARE ARCHITECTURE DEVELOPMENT

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BARRIERS SURROUNDING KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER IN NON-COLLOCATED SOFTWARE ARCHITECTURE DEVELOPMENT Powered By Docstoc
					Oct. 31


                                       IJASCSE Vol 1, Issue 3, 2012

          BARRIERS SURROUNDING KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER IN NON-COLLOCATED
                      SOFTWARE ARCHITECTURE DEVELOPMENT

                   Marzanah, A.J., Salfarina, A., Abdul Azim, A. G., AND Rusli, A.
                    Faculty of Computer Science and Information Technology,
                                     University Putra Malaysia



  Abstract—Abundance of efforts have                                  I. INTRODUCTION
  been endeavored to investigate the                      Today, the development of software has
  barriers of knowledge transfer (KT) that             evolved      tremendously        from      being
  exist in various level within organizations.         concentrated at a single site to being
  The structure of non-collocated team                 geographically dispersed. The distance
  amplifies the complication of the KT.                between the different teams can vary from a
  Despite efforts put forth, not much is               few meters (when the teams work in adjacent
  known about KT in software architecture              buildings) to different continents (Prikladnicki,
  development, a setting that is very much             2003). Such distributed environment allows
  knowledge intensive. KT is crucially                 team members to be located in various
  essential as for making design decisions             remote sites during the software lifecycle,
  in developing software architecture, many            thus making up a network of distant sub-
  factors and inputs need to be carefully              teams (Jimenez et al. 2009). In some cases,
  considered and accounted. The purpose                these teams may be members of the same
  of this paper is to discuss and outline our          organization; in other cases, collaboration or
  perspectives regarding the barriers                  outsourcing involving different organizations
  towards effective KT in this particular              may exist. The primary influence to this
  environment. We believe that the outcome             phenomenon stems from huge savings or
                                                       sound business reasons that include
  will    deposit    valuable     contribution
                                                       reduction in workspace costs, increased in
  particularly in the study of KT in non-
                                                       productivity, labor cost, better access to
  collocated       software       architecture         global markets and environmental benefits.
  development and enrich the knowledge                 Notwithstanding      these     benefits,    such
  management literature in general.                    environment is fraught with challenges.
                                                          Software architecture is about making
  Keywords-Keywords: Knowledge transfer
                                                       design decisions based from the user
  (KT),       non-collocated  software                 requirements.      Typically    these     design
  architecture, barriers.                              decisions are not well explicitly documented
                                                       but remains to reside in the mind of the
                                                       software architects or software designers (van
                                                       der Ven et al. 2006). This has caused lost of
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                                        IJASCSE Vol 1, Issue 3, 2012

  the important knowledge underlying the                       II. KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER (KT)
  decisions (the architectural artifact), including        KT is the dissemination of knowledge from
  the evaluated alternatives, trade-offs and            one individual or group to another within the
  rationale about the decision made. Amplified          organization. It may be purposely transferred,
  by the distance between teams, the                    or it may occur as an unintended outcome of
  interdependencies      between      them      are     other activities (Joshi et al., 2006).       As
  challenged by the decreased of opportunities          asserted by Appelbaum and Steed (2005),
  for face-to-face interaction while relying            “…knowledge are best learned through
  heavily on the documentation. The challenge           exposure to and experience…”. This is further
  continues in terms of limited utilization of the      supported by Newell (2005) where according
  knowledge areas used and exchanged due to             to her, KT implies that each individual or
  the arising difficulties in establishing an           group or organizational unit need not learn
  effective medium for KT between non-                  from scratch but can rather learn from the
  collocated teams to connect with each other.          experiences of others. Therefore in this
  Additionally, the intensification of these            paper, we adopted the definition of KT as the
  challenges is increased by the differences in         process through which one unit learns from
  capabilities and work experiences that exist          the experiences of others (Argote &
  between the teams. Moreover, the importance           Todorova, 2007; Darr & Kurtzberg, 2000).
  of software architecture development is               From our perspective, KT is about the
  acknowledged for it is where the integration of       integration of knowledge and experience
  knowledge mostly happens. It does not only            between people from various backgrounds
  provide the blue print of the whole system or         and expertise. This is in line with the
  software to be developed, but it can                  knowledge       intensive   perseverance      in
  determine the success or failure of the               software architecture development, which
  development itself. In this paper, our interest       demands such integration. These people
  is geared into understanding the barriers             need not only sharing but also learning from
  surrounding effective KT in non-collocated            each others’ experience to ensure that they
  software architecture development. It is our          can accomplish their tasks. It is also believed
  belief that in order to achieve effective KT          that the definition of KT must cover the use of
  particularly between non-collocated teams, it         knowledge on the part of the receiver
  is crucial that these obstacles must first be         (Devanport & Prusak, 2000; Darr & Kurtzberg,
  understood so that new perspectives and               2000) and not simply by sharing of the
  solutions either to overcome or increase              knowledge between units. This is particularly
  those impacts on KT can be provided.                  important to distinct the overlapping terms
      In the next sections, the current body of         between KT and just knowledge sharing, and
  literature reviewed in this study is explained,       also makes it easier to verify that KT has
  and followed by the discussion on barriers to         occurred by investigating those cases
  effective KT in non-collocated software               involving use, which can be observed and
  architecture development. The paper then              measured (Darr & Kurtzberg, 2000). Given all
  ends with conclusion section.                         these definitions, we can foresee that the role
                                                        KT plays is critical to ensure the continuity of
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                                        IJASCSE Vol 1, Issue 3, 2012

  success to the organization, and also to the          and problems. Secondly, it captures early
  capability development of those involved in           design decisions. In software architecture, the
  KT.                                                   global structure of the system has been
                                                        decided upon, through the explicit assignment
   A. Software     Architecture                         of functionality to components of the
                                                        architecture. These early design decisions are
     The definition of software architecture
                                                        important since their ramifications are felt in
  includes all the usual technical activities
                                                        all subsequent phases. It is therefore
  associated with design: understanding
                                                        paramount to assess the quality at the earliest
  requirements       and     qualities;    extracting
                                                        possible moment. Thirdly, architecture is the
  architecturally     significant     requirements;
                                                        primary carrier of a software system's quality
  making choices; synthesizing a solution;
                                                        attributes such as performance or reliability.
  exploring alternatives and validating them
                                                        The right architecture is the linchpin for
  (Uphorn & Dittrich, 2010). In software
                                                        software project accomplishment whereby the
  development process, software architecture is
                                                        wrong one is a recipe for guaranteed disaster.
  generally a part of preliminary design in the
  design phase. It includes negotiating and             B. The Importance of KT in Software
  balancing     of     functional     and     quality
  requirements on one hand, and possible Architecture Development
  solutions on the other hand. This means
  requirements development and software                  It is agreed that both analysts and software
  architecture are not subsequent phases that         architects play important roles in the
  are more or less strictly separated, but            successful software architecture, and that the
  instead they are heavily intertwined. There transfer of knowledge is important in the
  are many reasons describing the importance          software architecture development. However,
  of software architecture phase in software          not much is known about KT between
  development process. Firstly, it is a vehicle for   analysts and software architects a setting that
  communication          among         stakeholders.  is very much knowledge intensive. Initially,
  Software architecture is a global, often            the analyst primarily possesses business
  graphic,     description      that      can      be knowledge, whereas the software architect
  communicated to the customers, end users,           primarily possesses technical (including
  designers and so on. By developing scenarios        architectural) knowledge (Rus and Lindvall,
  of anticipated use, relevant quality aspects        2002). KT between these two teams invites
  can be analyzed and discussed with various          an intriguing intention for discovery of the flow
  stakeholders. The software architecture also        and nature of the transfer considering the lack
  supports communication during development.          of its descriptions in the literature. The
  This is consistent with the empirical evidence      integration of initial knowledge possessed by
  by Unphon & Dittrich (2010), where the              these teams is seen as a must. More
  architecture almost always exists as                importantly, there are other elements
  knowledge       of     people      applied     and  surrounding this process (of KT) alongside
  communicated answering situated questions           the constraints of the environment that need
                                                      to be taken into consideration.
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                                      IJASCSE Vol 1, Issue 3, 2012

     Software architecture development is         outcome of integration of knowledge
  where knowledge integration mostly occurs       particularly between the analysts and
  compared to other phases in software            software architects. Through KT, both teams
  development life cycles. It is the encounter of can communicate with each other and
  two most highlighted roles for developing       complete their tasks even when they are
  software architecture – the analyst and remotely              located.   Without      KT,   the
  software architect teams. Both teams are        development of software architecture might
  specialized in different types of knowledge,    be imprecise and does not provide adequate
  background and capabilities. Although they information to proceed to the next phase of
  are assigned with different job responsibility, development.
  they are highly dependent on each other.            Making decision is never an easy task.
  Software architect needs input from the         Software architect is held accountable for
  analyst and vice versa to complete each         making early design decisions during
  other’s    objective.    But     certainly  the software architecture development. These
  dependency that exists between them is not      decisions are partly made based on the input
  only limited to the need for delivering their   and requirements provided by the analysts.
  tasks to develop software architecture. KT is crucially essential as for making these
  Instead, at the same time it initiates the      design decisions, many factors and inputs
  urgency to learn about each other’s expertise,  need to be carefully considered and
  knowledge and experience, thus creating the     accounted. Both teams must provide as much
  opportunity for KT. As a result, they create    information as possible to ensure that they
  new knowledge and increase their own            can come out with the best decision for
  knowledge       possession.     Through    this software design and at the same time
  communication, the software engineer who        ensuring that the user requirements are
  shares his knowledge also updates his           fulfilled.
  knowledge (Unphon & Dittrich, 2010). Now
  that they are well aware on how and where to      C. The Context of Non-Collocated Teams in
  locate and access expertise, they are well Software Architecture Development
  understood about each other’s accountability,
                                                      Sundstrom et al. (1990) define teams as
  the process of developing the software
                                                  small groups of interdependent individuals
  architecture will eventually become much
  smoother, faster and less problematic.          who share responsibility for outcomes for their
     It seems rightly emphasized to rationalize   organization. This shared responsibility by
                                                  team members implies an agreement as to
  the importance of KT since software
                                                  the individuals contributing. In many
  architecture development acts as a vehicle for
  communication among those who are               organizations, the team now serves as the
  involved. As a blue print that describes the    basic unit for transferring and preserving
                                                  knowledge (Wu et al. 2006). Studies in
  whole software/system, it is a necessity for it
                                                  geographically dispersed teams on the other
  to be effectively delivered and communicated.
  KT determines this by ensuring that the         hand, define non collocated teams as a group
  software architecture produced is the           of       geographically     distributed    and

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                                         IJASCSE Vol 1, Issue 3, 2012

  organizationally dispersed workers performing          non-collocated          software        architecture
  one or more tasks that are supported by                development.
  information and communication technology
  (Hertel, Konradt, & Orlikowski, 2004). Wilson              IV. BARRIERS TO EFFECTIVE KT IN NON-
  (2011) defines distributed team as one whose               COLLOCATED SOFTWARE ARCHITECTURE
  members are separated by distance, such as                 DEVELOPMENT
  when team members are in different                         To date, research in KT has received
  countries. The distribution is either in (a) time,     enormous attention especially in investigating
  (b) distance, (c) culture, or some combination         the barriers or impediments to effective KT
  of these aspects. Advances in technology               (Ko et al., 2005; Wu et al., 2006; Anna et al.,
  have made it easier to organize and manage             2009; Paulin & Suneson, 2012). This
  dispersed groups of people. And competitive            phenomenon is not surprising since the best
  pressures and the needs of today’s global              strategy to implement effective KT is by
  market workforce have made virtual or                  identifying    and      overcoming      these
  distributed teams a necessity for some                 impediments. Our study takes slightly
  organizations. As the business environment             different approach in that we are not only
  becomes more global and businesses are                 determining what the barriers are, but most
  increasingly in search of more creative ways           importantly, we are looking at them from more
  to reduce operating costs, the concept of              positive perspectives. We believe that
  virtual teams is of paramount importance               underneath some of the barriers, lays the
  (Foley,     2000).    Software     development         hidden potential contribution on teams’
  organizations are no exception. In the context         capability.   Therefore, we decide to use
  of our research, non-collocated software               “external conditions surrounding” KT instead
  architecture development simply describes              of barriers. The following table 1.0
  the development of software architecture by            summarizes the findings for surrounding
  non-collocated teams, which in this case the           conditions of KT.
  teams involve the analysts and software
  architects.                                             TABLE 1. RESULT FOR EXTERNAL CONDITIONS
                                                                      SURROUNDING KT
              III. METHODOLOGY                                                                   Percentage
                                                           External Conditions       Frequency
      We conducted semi-structured interviews                                                        (%)
  with 30 industrial experts ranging from the              Physical distance            28          93.3
                                                           Functional, experience,
  analysts, software architects to project                 and capability               23          76.7
  managers from selected MSC (Multimedia                   differences
  Super Corridor) organizations in Malaysia.               Lacking of time              20          66.7
                                                           Lacking of trust             18          60.0
  Using a list of barriers identified from the             Reluctance to share
  literature,  we    constructed     appropriate           knowledge
                                                                                        13          43.3
  questions for the purpose of the interviews.             Lacking of motivation        7           23.3
  The primary intention was to determine their             Low awareness of the
                                                           value and benefit of
  agreement in regards to the list we conjecture           possessed knowledge
                                                                                        5           16.7
  as the most likely to inhibit effective KT in            to others

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                                       IJASCSE Vol 1, Issue 3, 2012

                                                       conditions surrounding KT. A typical nature of
      As predicted, physical distance was the          software project teams (including software
  most frequently chosen by the participants as        architecture development) does not only
  an external condition surrounding KT. This           confined into achieving specified purpose but
  result is in agreement with Gregory et al.           also to work within constraints of time. Time
  (2009) and Anna et al. (2009) who highlight          restrictions have become the possible reason
  the physical distance as one of the main             that drives the teams to hoard their
  impediments for effective KT. The fact that          knowledge rather than transfer and share with
  two interdependent teams working distantly           others. Participants also highlighted the lack
  from one another has definitely reducing the         of time to engage in KT as a result for being
  ease for KT. The problem with KT becomes             too occupied with the assigned task and
  even more acute as more and more issues              reaching the dateline. This comment is
  arose, particularly when the chances for direct      consistent with Michailova and Husted (2003),
  face-to-face meeting or social communication,        in which according to them, people naturally
  becomes less and less impractical. The fact          focus on those tasks that are more beneficial
  that software architecture development is a          to them. There was one participant who also
  knowledge integration activity, to bridge the        commented that due to physical distance,
  physical gap is very important. This explains        they rarely have the time to identify
  the previous findings of mediums used for KT,        colleagues in need of specific knowledge.
  in which various types of communication                    By far, lacking of trust has been
  technologies have been employed to cater             nominated by the literature as one of the most
  the communication problems between the               common impediments to effective KT
  non-collocated teams.                                (Naftanaila, 2010; Falconer, 2006; Lucas,
      The findings are continued by the selection      2006; Reige, 2005; Hildreth & Kimble, 2004).
  of functional, experience and capability             According to findings in Reige (2005), there
  differences as second most frequently chosen         are two terms concerning this issue. Firstly,
  external conditions surrounding KT. Software         there is a lack of trust in people because they
  architecture development witnesses the               may misuse knowledge or take unjust credit
  integration of team members from diverse             for it and secondly there is a lack of trust in
  backgrounds, experiences, and capabilities.          accuracy and credibility of knowledge due to
  In addition, being assigned with different roles     the source, which the latter was studied by
  and functions has consequently increased the         Sarker et al. (2002), in their research that
  gap between teams. Sarker et al. (2002), in          investigate KT among information system
  their study found that difference in individual      development        (ISD)      team     members.
  capabilities undermines KT. Reige (2005)             Naftanaila (2010) asserts that most people
  also mentions the difference in experience in        are unlikely to share their knowledge and
  his study regarding barriers in sharing of           experience without a feeling of trust. This is
  knowledge.                                           particularly true when according to some
      The numbers are closely entailed by              participants, lack of trust is mainly due to lack
  lacking of time (Roux et al. 2006; Reige,            of social communication between teams,
  2005; Ramirez, 2007) as one of the external          since they are not physically collocated.
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                                        IJASCSE Vol 1, Issue 3, 2012

  Social communication often realized through           perceived by the participants is lack of
  informal networks, which is very limited              motivation. There is an indication that it is the
  considering the nature of non-collocated              primary trigger for KT (Ajmal & Koskinen,
  teams. Additionally, “…the nature of inter            2008; Frey & Osterloh, 2000;). Many studies
  community social relation…where people                have been conducted to investigate the extent
  have limited sense of shared identity, makes          of effect the lack of motivation has, upon KT
  the existence of trust less likely…” (Hildreth &      (Mclaughlin et al., 2008; Disterer, 2001; Frey
  Kimble, 2004).                                        & Osterloh, 2000).        Lack of motivation,
                                                        particularly extrinsic motivation has been
     Reluctance to share knowledge can be               raised by many as closely related with
  possibly caused by the specialized nature of          managerial or organizational issues. This type
  the knowledge both analyst and software               of motivation is about expected organizational
  architect teams possessed. The specialist             rewards and reciprocal benefits. On the other
  nature of their knowledge, combined with the          hand, intrinsic motivation refers to knowledge
  extensive lack of interaction which had been          self-efficacy and enjoyment in helping others
  typical, meant that they had very poor                and is very important to help perform complex
  understanding of how other functions worked,          or creative tasks such as developing
  or what their constraints or requirements were        architecture. In neither ways, both team
  (Hildreth & Kimble, 2004). When asked                 leader and project manager plays a significant
  further about the extent of their agreement           role in cultivating the sense of motivation
  concerning this as a reason why there is a            among team members. In order to fulfill their
  reluctance to share knowledge with others,            tasks      during     software      architecture
  there were seemed to be no deniable.                  development, KT between teams should be of
  However, there were few participants who              importance despite of physical distance. An
  added personal gain and power (job security)          observation reported by one participant
  as the causes to become reluctant to share            regarding this is that KT has always been
  knowledge. This finding is in line with               seen as laborious especially in terms of time
  Paghaleh et al. (2011).        Another finding        and effort. The tendency to fully concentrate
  perceived from the participants concerning            in one’s work in order to catch the dateline
  the cause for this reluctance is the inability to     explains why KT is seen in such a way. It is
  absorb new knowledge due to incompetence              important to note, as is mentioned by Milne
  or limitation in their existing stock of              (2007), that individuals are often motivated to
  knowledge:                                            keep their tacit knowledge for themselves
     “Sometimes, we feel hesitant to share              rather than share it. In software architecture
  because we are not so sure we can correctly           development, both analyst and software
  convey to others what we really want to tell          architect teams need to be able to exploit
  them …it is better to keep that to ourselves          these tacit knowledge.
  than giving them the wrong ideas”                        The participants also chose low awareness
                                                        of the value and benefit as one of the external
    Another external condition surrounding KT           conditions surrounding KT, during software
  during software architecture development as           architecture development. One possible
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                                             IJASCSE Vol 1, Issue 3, 2012

  reason that drives this issue is that they do                   based organisations. In McCaffer, Ron (Ed.)
  not believe these benefits from transferring                    Proceedings of the 2009 International Conference
  knowledge. Even worst, they did not actually                    on Global Innovation in Construction Proceedings,
                                                                  Loughborough University UK, Holywell Park,
  experience KT although they make claim that                     Loughborough University, 220-230.
  they have. As displayed in typical scenario of             3.   Appelbaum SH, Steed, AJ (2005) The critical
  general software development teams, they                        success      factors   in   the   client-consulting
  often create island of knowledge due to low                     relationship. Journal of Management Development
  awareness that the knowledge possessed by                       24(1), 68-93.
  the other teams is valuable and useful, which              4.   Argote L and Todorova G (2007) Organizational
  can help accelerate the completion of their                     learning: Review and future directions. G. P.
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  knowledge is refrained by the thought that                      Wiley, New York, 193–234.
  they already possessed a certain level of                  5.   Darr ED and Kurtzberg TR (2000) An Investigation
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                                           IJASCSE Vol 1, Issue 3, 2012

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  www.ijascse.in                                                          Page 10

				
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