In recent years more and more systems development projects involve distributed, virtual teams of system developers, analysts and other experts in the design and construction of information technologies. These ISD teams work in separate locations using computer based tools to coordinate and structure their work. This mode of work creates problems associated with both the use of ISD methodologies and the socialisation of team members. For example, current ISD methodologies do not take into account the particularities of virtual development. Whilst many researchers have investigated the dynamics of co-located ISD teams, studies of virtual ISD teams are rare. This study investigated the use, in practice, of ISD methodologies and socialisation tactics by information systems professionals in virtual ISD teams. A conceptual framework was synthesised from the ISD methodology and socialisation literature. The central contention of the theory was that successful virtual ISD required well structured and complementary ISD and socialisation processes. The framework was tested empirically using an online survey which gathered both quantitative and qualitative data from 15 virtual ISD teams. Successful teams with excellent team communication, collaboration and cohesion used a bespoke ISD methodology and an institutionalised socialisation strategy. Internally developed ISD methodologies provided a structured, consistent and common approach by which team members could engage in their systems development process whilst also supporting knowledge sharing and social interaction. Institutionalised socialisation tactics were important for these teams because they enabled members to interact and create an integrated social system which contributed to the success of the projects. Virtual ISD work was also improved by mentor programmes, formal socialisation documentation, regular online meetings, facilitated informal communication, and the easy identification of expertise within the team by team members. The conceptual framework was revised on the basis of these findings and implications were drawn for both ISD practice and theory. This thesis therefore provides a fundamental contribution to the ISD literature by developing and validating a new theoretical framework for virtual ISD teams which has not previously appeared. This framework provides a basis for improved practice in the organisation and management of ISD projects, and the use of ISD methodologies in emerging ISD contexts. It also provides a springboard for deeper research into the particular nature of virtual ISD activities.
|Publication status||Submitted - 2009|