Software-Effect of Cultural Differences

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Effect of Cultural Differences on Software Development

A culture could be defined as the predominating attitudes and behaviour that characterizes the functioning of a group or organization. Through this paper we would like to address the effect of culture in the field of software development and one of the most commonly used model for development of a software Rapid Action Development (RAD). No matter what culture you are a part of; to develop software, a development model has to be followed.

There are two different types of culture which affect the software development.

1.Culture difference between countries – People from different geographies think, act and react differently. There is no scientific relation between how two different individuals think or act on a given situation or scenario. It requires careful planning and judgement when working with an individual from a different culture. Some things might be normal for us but may be offending to someone else. With the advent of IT, the world is fast turning into a global village, the distances are diminishing. In such a scenario it’s expected that our colleagues can be from any part of the world. Hence it becomes all the more important to behave in a culturally sensitive manner. Negotiations with potential clients are more likely to succeed when concerned parties understand the reason for difference in view points. Fifty years ago, majority of the population lived in the same region they were born and employed in a single profession throughout their lives. The reality of working in a global company is almost the exact opposite. Employees of TCS interact and coordinate with colleagues in different time zones, in a foreign language and in global workgroups with members in distant countries. In order to make cross-cultural global cooperation work, cross-cultural competencies must be strengthened. Cultural differences, which can be seen, tasted, felt, smelled or heard, are not the ones that cause difficulties. It is the invisible cultural differences that create misunderstandings - different value systems, attitudes, beliefs and expectations.

To adopt a more customer centric approach, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is training all its employees to speak and understand at least one foreign language in a bid to become a global player in the knowledge sector. The move is not only limited to learn a language but also to make them conversant with other soft skills like culture and etiquette of at least one foreign country. Considering the diversity in cultures, our own experience with a North American based bank can be taken as an example here. This North American bank and Tata Consultancy Services have matured processes. Though a model driven approach is followed in both the companies, certain cultural factors are observed during the Software Development Life Cycle. Working in a multi-cultural environment for this North American bank has forced us to think about the cultural differences in software development. This bank is globalised in a true sense. We, Indians are currently working with colleagues from Greece, Sri Lanka, Russia, Romania and China. Where else would you get people of such diversity working towards one common goal of driving the business of the bank?

2.Culture of the organisation – Organisational culture lays out the values, beliefs, attitude and experience of a company. It may have been created unconsciously to align with the beliefs of the founder or top management personnel. The organisational culture we would like to describe here is of Closed Source and Open Source software development companies. Both these streams have their own beliefs and end goals. Main objective of a Closed Source organisation is profit and that precisely is the motive that drives these organisations. There strategy revolves around expanding their customer base and increasing the value of there stocks on the contrary Open Source organisations are non commercial...
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