Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 35 Number 3 2018 pp. 776-812

Key Affordances of Platform-as-a-Service: Self-Organization and Continuous Feedback

Krancher, Oliver, Luther, Pascal, and Jost, Marc


Although software development teams increasingly use Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), a minimal amount is known regarding the impact of PaaS on software development. We explored the impact of PaaS on software development through a grounded-theory study, conducting 48 interviews in 16 teams. The data turned our attention to the affordances, or potentials for action, that PaaS provides to software development teams. Two key affordances emerging from our data analysis were self-organizing and triggering continuous feedback. Actualizing these affordances helped accelerate the collective learning processes that underlie software development, thus supporting software development teams in their quest for agility. Our emerging theory explains how, why, and when these affordances arise. The key contribution of our paper lies in unveiling how the use of cloud computing technology can transform technology-mediated collective learning activities by helping to remove barriers to rapid feedback. Our findings also imply that organizations can leverage PaaS to facilitate the transition to agile and continuous software development practices, in particular in conjunction with cross-functional team designs.

Key words and phrases: cloud computing, platform-as-a-service, software development, feedback, collective learning, IT affordances, agile software development, agility, continuous integration, continuous delivery, DevOps, lean software development