How does radical collocation help a team succeed?

Over the last few days there has been a discussion on the Scrum Alliance news group about team rooms. EricG started the discussion by asking, “I’m looking for data to guide green field creation of work spaces for Scrum teams. Any pointers?”

There were a number of very interested replies, and I would urge you to read the full thread. Michael James pointed to this article which I hadn’t seen before. This paper is striking because of the significant improvement in productivity that they reported … which is most unusual for an academic paper. To quote the paper:

In simple terms, the pilot teams produced double the number of function points per staff month from the previous baseline for the company. The time to market (cycle time) dropped to almost 1/3 as compared to the company baseline, and even lower than that produced by the industry as a whole.

It doesn’t end there. Concerned that the teams selected for the pilot program were special in some way, the authors many of the same productivity and satisfaction measures against 11 teams using the same facility following the pilot. They found …

Follow-on teams were even more productive than the pilot teams. Function points per staff month doubled again, while cycle time stayed about the same.

To read such dramatic results leads me to believe that the authors found a significant difference when the teams were collocated. This is nothing new to the agile community but it’s nice to have this re-affirmed by other communities. If you’re wondering about the benefits of collocation, I’d encourage you do read download and read the original paper.

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