How software documentation helps communication in development teams: A case study on architecture and design documents
Sammanfattning: Communication between developers andwithin development teams takes place through various communicationchannels. Software documentation acts as a communicationchannel among software professionals. But, to whatextent documentation can help communication in developmentteams? [Objective] This paper evaluates how software documentationand specifically architecture and design documentshelp communication among/within development teams. [Method]We performed a multiple-case study at the IT departments oftwo Swedish manufacturing companies. The research methodfollowed a qualitative approach consisting of a survey with24 participants, two semi-structured interviews, and two workdiaries. [Results] By performing the case study, the followingresults were derived: (1) software documentation complementscommunication rather than replacing it; (2) documentationusage frequency depends on its up-to-dateness and accuracy;(3) the main reasons for using documentation are assistancein development and maintenance phases, knowledge transferand architecture comprehension, although incomplete/outdateddocumentation is the main concern; (4) architecture and designdocuments complement communication channels, and their usageis affected by company policies and education/employmentbackground; (5) knowledge evaporation results in excessive timeand cost consumption however, software documentation is apossible remedy to that. [Conclusions] It is concluded that designdocuments and documentation in general mainly complementcommunication in development teams and avoid knowledgeevaporation, however, their usage depends on their accuracy,company policies and employees’ background.
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