Joint implicit alignment work of interaction designers and software developers

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Collaboration is an important aspect of software creation work. In field studies of 8 teams in the early stages of novel project work at 8 organizations we focused on understanding collaborative work from the perspective of both the interaction designer and the developer. We found designer-developer collaborations, often occurring in the context of team collaborations, were extensive. While some collaborations were directed towards explicit alignment work, such as prioritizing tasks, we have studied implicit alignment work, which constitutes a larger part of the overall alignment work. The form of this work varied in some respects, but in general designer-developer interactions directed towards implicit alignment were remarkably similar. Our model shows how implicit alignment work is jointly achieved; we derived it from an extensive analysis of videos of 13 collaborative events, and verified it with our observation notes and interviews. The model is applicable to a wide variety of software creation settings, including agile and non-agile teams. Our analysis shows the implications of our observations of implicit alignment work, and we conclude organizations should take practical steps to support it, as is frequently done for explicit alignment work.