Collaboration during Conceptual Design
Catledge, Lara D.
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Conceptual design involves requirements analysis, functional specification, and architectural design. It remains informal and poorly understood. We studied the conceptual design activities of a representative industrial software project, Centauri, for three months with follow-up observations and discussions over the following six months. Our goal was to understand how patterns of collaboration and communication in project teams affect the convergence of the project on a common vision and a documented specification. In this paper, we present our research methodology, our findings, and their implications for process and tool support. The following observations stand out. First, convergence on a common system vision was painfully slow. The major impediment to faster progress was the difficulty that the project team had in making critical allocation and interface design decisions. Second, Centauri project members repeatedly raised certain issues and failed to reach closure on key problems. Finally, we observed a persistent tension between the desire on behalf of nearly all project members to follow a proceduralized development process and the urgency of delivering a working product.