A systematic review of distributed Agile software engineering

Buturab Rizvi, Ebrahim Bagheri, Dragan Gasevic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Context: The combination of Agile methods and distributed software development via remote teams represents an emerging approach to addressing the challenges such as late feedback, slow project timelines, and high cost, typically associated with software development projects. However, when projects are implemented using an Agile model with distributed human resources, there are a number of challenges that need to be considered and mitigated.

Objectives: The objectives of our work are multifold. First, we would like to understand the reasons and conditions that lead to the adoption of distributed agile software engineering practices. Second, we would like to investigate and find out the most important risks that threaten a distributed agile software engineering approach and what mitigation strategies exist to address them. Finally, would like to highlight which of the available approaches among the existing agile methodologies have been successfully adopted by the community. We intend to solidify our findings by exploring the strength of the evidence that has been reported in the literature.

Methods: We carried out a systematic literature review of Distributed Agile Software Engineering techniques and approaches reported from January 1, 2007 until September 31, 2012. The adopted method follows the well-established guidelines in the literature for conducting systematic literature reviews.

Results: Sixty-three distinct studies were selected and analyzed according to the inclusion and exclusion criteria, which focused on identifying only those studies from the literature that had a significant empirical or experimental aspect to them. The results revealed a significant number of scenarios reported by the industry that documented challenges and solutions in a Distributed Agile setting. Communication, Coordination, Collaboration, and Cultural issues were listed as being the areas where challenges exist.

Conclusions: This systematic literature review found time zone difference, knowledge of resources, lack of infrastructure, missing roles and responsibilities as being the primary challenges that needed to be addressed. In terms of solutions, most papers had recommended having a good infrastructure in place for communication, encouraging team members to engage in formal and informal communications, having more face-to-face visits, training human resources on DASE and organizational practices, policies, procedures, and utilizing tools to enhance the collaboration experience. Additionally, this research provides recommendations to help improve the current state
of reporting findings and results in the Distributed Agile Software Engineering domain.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)723–762
JournalJournal of Software: Evolution and Process
Issue number10
Early online date8 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • distributed agile software engineering
  • empirical results
  • surveys and field studies
  • agile
  • DASE
  • systematic literature review
  • software engineering


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