The Role of Domain Knowledge and Cross-Functional Communication in Socio-Technical Coordination

Daniela Damian, Remko Helms, Irwin Kwan, Sabrina Marczak, and Benjamin Koelewijn

University of Victoria, Canada; Utrecht University, Netherlands; Oregon State University, USA; PUCRS, Brazil

Track: Technical Research
Session: Process
Software projects involve diverse roles and artifacts that have dependencies to requirements. Project team members in different roles need to coordinate but their coordination is affected by the availability of domain knowledge, which is distributed among different project members, and organizational structures that control cross-functional communication. Our study examines how information flowed between different roles in two software projects that had contrasting distributions of domain knowledge and different communication structures. Using observations, interviews, and surveys, we examined how diverse roles working on requirements and their related artifacts coordinated along task dependencies. We found that communication only partially matched task dependencies and that team members that are boundary spanners have extensive domain knowledge and hold key positions in the control structure. These findings have implications on how organizational structures interfere with task assignments and influence communication in the project, suggesting how practitioners can adjust team configuration and communication structures.