Evaluation of Cross-Project Multitasking in Software Projects

It has been observed that multitasking can cause inefficient (or unproductive) work. Modern lean and agile practices in software engineering processes also acknowledge the problem and attempt to eliminate waste by limiting work in progress and using better team organization and work scheduling techniques. Existing research has studied multitasking and work interruptions on individuals, but very few of them have evaluated the effects of multitasking on the team or the whole organization. The goal of this study is to understand how multitasking and interruptions affect the cost of software projects. In this paper, we present a method for quantitative evaluation of the negative impact of cross-project multitasking in software development. The presented method can serve as a tool for better effort estimation as well as a metric for productivity evaluation in multiproject environments. The method was used to evaluate cross-project multitasking overhead of several industry projects. Additionally, we studied whether the number of projects in which developers were involved simultaneously is a predictor of the number of work interruptions and multitasking overhead in the team.
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