Unique Challenges of Global Software Engineering in Europe




Global Software Engineering (GSE) has become a global phenomenon and a huge number of researchers and practitioners have been exploring the challenges of developing software in global arrangement, also called global sourcing, and how those challenges can be addressed. However, there has been relatively less attention to the unique challenges caused by a particular geographical location for example Europe. The discussions along these lines prompted christian Lescher (my co-program chair for ICGSE 2011) and me to organized a panel discussion during the International Conference on Global Software Engineering (ICGSE 2011) in Helsinki in August. The key question for the panel discussion was:

What are the unique challenges for GSE in Europe and how to overcome them?

This was a “fish ball” panel which was quite well attended with a lot of energetic and thoughtful participants who shared their observations, experiences, and opinions about the GSE challenges which are unique to Europe and those challenges are making it quite difficult for European companies to fully exploit the potential benefits of GSE paradigm. We will be writing a details report on the discussions and outcomes of the panel in the near future and I’ll have write a details blog entry. For those who are interested in knowing the main points discussed and different lines of arguments taken by different participants, I am placing some parts from the raw notes which were kindly taken by Paolo Tell.
Panel> What are the unique challenges for GSE in Europe and how to overcome them?

– Number one challenge is offshoaring and there is no way it will not create problems. Culture is an aspect that should be carefully considered also inside Europe. It is an aspect that does not have to be underestimated.
– The maturity has increased a lot in the last decade. Rump up cost decreased a lot latey because of the accumulated experience. The trend that I do see is towards more equal partners and stronger vendors.
– 3 aspects are covered already in the side and I’d like to point out additionally the importance of thrust and language. How scalable is english inside Europe? and, how effective is it as a medium?.

– The challenge of the language. Strong accent but native speakers understand and in Europe, where english is not the main language they do not.
– The bottleneck is RnD boundaries. Strong competition for good engineers (ndr> there was more).
– Vietnam/SiliconValley. How many indians etc are in control of tech companies in the Silicon Valley? Do you outsource there because of cultural references or just for leveraging time zones? From my experience, US companies are driving these decisions by culture.

– We went to Asia to have time difference as security was fundamental and we needed 24h coverage. Now we ‘shop’ around. If I want 3 Scrum teams I employ them and if the collaboration works we continue it, otherwise we move on to others.
– Why should be cultural, linguistic difference be in any way different?
– SE is highly collaborative. If cult/ling breaks down all fail also considering that pace of projects is high. Therefore, it is crucial.
– Is it really true that software is different? Take music into consideration. They have crossed the problem of culture in orchestras. There is a need for stability on ‘language’ (standards).
– Not lack of notation, we are underestimating cultural differences in Europe. The way decisions are made is different (Denmark/Switzerland).
– Agrees on same concept. Case of CheckRep and Finland.
More to come later.