School of Business publications portal
This portal is no longer updated. Aalto University School of Business Master's Theses are now in the Aaltodoc publication archive (Aalto University institutional repository)
School of Business | Department of Information and Service Economy | MSc program in Information and Service Management | 2016
Thesis number: 14743
Cross-functional collaboration and communication in IT Houses: a multiple case study
Author: Ainamo, Eerika
Title: Cross-functional collaboration and communication in IT Houses: a multiple case study
Year: 2016  Language: eng
Department: Department of Information and Service Economy
Academic subject: MSc program in Information and Service Management
Index terms: yritysviestintä; viestintä; palvelut; digitaalitekniikka; yhteistyö
Pages: 72
Key terms: digital service; communication; collaboration
Technology is changing the world at a rapid pace by disrupting industries and changing the ways in which people interact. In particular, the nature of services has changed radically in light of the shift from traditional face-to-face services to digital services accessed and obtained by the users, independently via the web or through portable devices such as mobile and tablets.

Concurrently, the number of IT houses whose consulting services entail offering design and development of digital services to their clients has gone through the roof. In these IT houses, the two disciplines of design and development are integrated to create digital services that are convenient for end-users and profitable for the clients. Consequently, the collaboration between the two groups of experts, designers and developers, plays a key role.

The objective of this research is to study the extent to which design and development are integrated in these IT houses, the ways in which cross-functional communication is ensured and the potential factors affecting said communication. The research starts with a thorough literature review, which aims to both provide an understanding of the context and to create a foundation for conducting the empirical research. A qualitative approach was considered appropriate as the goal was to create an understanding of the phenomenon. The empirical research was carried out as a multiple case study that targeted experts from three IT Houses. Material was gathered through six semi-structured interviews, which were transcribed and analyzed to enable the identification and presentation of the relevant findings.

The results showed that the level of integration between design and development varies significantly between the case companies. Given that flexibility is considered key in this line of business where each project tends to differ from the next, no strict and defined process of integration has developed. The research revealed that collaboration and communication between design and development during projects is widely affected by two identified communication-related entities: the more manageable mediums for knowledge transfer and the less manageable factors affecting communication.

The implications of the study are two-fold. First, when it comes to the level of integration between design and development, each actor in the industry is advised to make an effort to find the best solution for their own purposes. When it comes to creating digital services, one size does not fit all. The second implication is to provide the tools and conditions to encourage and enable cross-functional collaboration and communication.
Master's theses are stored at Learning Centre in Otaniemi.