As a result, software development is increasingly a multisite, multicultural, globally distributed undertaking. Engineers, managers, and executives face numerous, formidable challenges on many levels, from the technical to the social and cultural. Is working at a distance really such a problem? Nearly everyone with GSD experience, it seems, has anecdotes illustrating difficulties and misunderstandings. While these stories are compelling, they do not give us a clear picture of its cumulative effects. However, we have strong evidence, based both on statistical modeling of development interval and on survey results, that multisite development tasks take much longer than comparable colocated tasks and that communication and coordination play major roles in this delay.
While we focus primarily on the problems of GSD, we should not neglect the potential benefits of geographic dispersion. For example, if an organization can manage daily handoffs of work between remote sites and focus attention around the clock on critical-path tasks, it is possible to take advantage of widely dispersed time zones. We could theoretically extend the productive hours of the day from the current 8- to 10- hour norm to somewhere near the limit of 24. This is perhaps a distant goal as a general model for development, but occasional benefits-for example, accelerated problem investigation or a distributed daily test-andfix cycle-are possible.