Be restrained

• keep the common goals of the team in mind all the time.

Croup performance

Are groups more effective than individuals working alone? Given the preference of many people attracted to software development for working on their own. this is an important question. In many projects, judgements need to be made about which tasks are best carried out collectively and which are best delegated to individuals to do on their own. As one manager at IBM was quoted as saying: *Some work yields better results if carried out as a team while some things are stowed down if the work is compartmentalized on an individual basis'. Pan of the answer lies in the type of task being undertaken. One way of categorizing group tasks is into:

• compensatory tasks;

• disjunctive tasks;

• conjunctive tasks.

Additive tasks are where the efforts of each participant are added together to gel the final result, as in a gang of people clearing snow. The people involved are interchangeable.

With compensatory tasks the judgements of individual group members are pooled so that errors by some group members are compensated for by the inputs from others. An example of this would be where indiv idual members of a group are asked to provide estimates of the effort needed to produce a piece of software and the results are then averaged. In these circumstances, group work is generally more effective than the efforts of indiv ¡duals.

With disjunctive tasks there is only one correct answer. The effectiveness of the group depends on:

• someone coming up w ith the right answer:

• the others recognizing it as being correct.

With this type of task, the group can only be as good as its best member and no better.

Conjunctive tasks are where progress is governed by the rate of the slowest performer. Software production w here different staff are responsible for different modules seems to be a prime example of this. The overall task is not completed until every participant's work is complete. In this case co-operative attitudes are

The IBM manager was quoted by Angelo Failla in 'Technologies tor Coordination in a Software Factory' in Groupware & Teamwork edited by C. U. Ciborra, Wiley & Sons. 1996

Code reviews could bo seen as an example of a compensatory task.

productive: the team members who are more advanced need to ensure the meeting of group objectives by assisting those who are behind. The source of the With all types of collective task, but particularly with additive ones, there is a quotation is the paper by danger of social loafing, where some individuals do not make their proper Failla that is cited above. contribution. This can certainly occur with student group activities, but is not unknown in 'real' work env ironments. As one software developer has commented: '¡The contribution made lit others/ is not always recognized. Nor is the lack of any contributions ... nobtxiy points out those who fail to make any contributions. Uke when there's somebody with vital skills and you ask him for help, but he doesn't provide it'.

Exercise 11.5 Social loafing is a problem that students often encounter when carry ing out group assignments. What steps can participants in a group take to encourage team members to 'pull their weight' properly?

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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