Key factors that influence task allocation in global software development

Sajjad Mahmood*, Sajid Anwer, Mahmood Niazi, Mohammad Alshayeb, Ita Richardson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Context Planning and managing task allocation in Global Software Development (GSD) projects is both critical and challenging. To date, a number of models that support task allocation have been proposed, including cost models and risk-based multi-criteria optimization models. Objective The objective of this paper is to identify the factors that influence task allocation in the GSD project management context. Method First, we implemented a formal Systematic Literature Review (SLR) approach and identified a set of factors that influence task allocation in GSD projects. Second, a questionnaire survey was developed based on the SLR, and we collected feedback from 62 industry practitioners. Results The findings of this combined SLR and questionnaire survey indicate that site technical expertise, time zone difference, resource cost, task dependency, task size and vendor reliability are the key criteria for the distribution of work units in a GSD project. The results of the t-test show that there is no significant difference between the findings of the SLR and questionnaire survey. However, the industry study data indicates that resource cost and task dependency are more important to a centralized GSD project structure while task size is a key factor in a decentralized GSD project structure. Conclusion GSD organizations should try to consider the identified task allocation factors when managing their global software development activities to better understand, plan and manage work distribution decisions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-122
Number of pages21
JournalInformation and Software Technology
StatePublished - Nov 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to acknowledge the support provided by the Deanship of Scientific Research at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Saudi Arabia, under Research Grant IN131013.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Ltd


  • Empirical study
  • Global Software Development
  • Systematic Literature Review
  • Task Allocation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications


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