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[XP] Re: XP and Project management

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  • Ron Jeffries
    XP offers some very real benefit to project managers, namely the ability to deliver the best product that s actually possible by some given date. A project
    Message 1 of 6 , Mar 31, 2000
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      XP offers some very real benefit to project managers, namely the ability to
      deliver the best product that's actually possible by some given date. A
      project manager who was interested in that, and paying attention to how
      well things are probably working for him now, might be very interested in XP.

      In some companies (you know who you are), getting things done isn't really
      the most important thing. Not rocking the boat, managing the dollars,
      holding programmers' feet to the fire, sending suitably vague yet glowing
      reports up the chain of command ... these things are important.

      In those environments, XP, or any change, is more of a problem. You'd have
      to find a team and manager who actually cared about doing good stuff, and
      then kind of ease them into it. The programming practices are generally no
      problem except for the, um, persons who think pair programming is somehow
      wasteful. OK, drop it and just pay the price in productivity. The key to XP
      is the balance between customer and programmer, the steering to success
      that comes from there.

      To get that, what I would do if the programmers wanted to do XP, is this:
      I'd break down my requirements, however they had come to me, onto cards.
      I'd put the priorities on the cards, H, M, L, however I got them, even if I
      had to guess. I'd get the team to estimate them, even if I had to buy them
      a pizza. Then, next time I was with project manager, customer, anyone who
      looked vaguely customer-like, I'd whip out the cards and give an impromptu
      status report:

      "OK, here's all the stuff we have to do. I've marked the priorities on
      here, and how long its going to take. (Laying cards out on table.) Here's
      the order we're doing things in now, here's our next intermediate release
      (waving hands over appropriate cards), here's where we are now."

      At this point nearly any manager or customer will feel the need to make a
      change. Probably they'll pick on something that's beyond the release date.
      They grab it and try to get it pushed into the release.

      "OK, that's a two. We can do that one if we remove any two points worth of
      stuff. What should we remove."

      This could actually work the first time if you display enough confidence.
      Usually it won't, and you'll get a speech about working harder, or smarter
      or something. Wait till that subsides.

      "We can do 30 points between now and then. There's 32 in there now. Which
      two should we defer?"

      bluster, bluster, bluster.

      "OK, well, if you don't care, I think we'll hold back on this one. Of
      course we'll put it back in if things go better than expected, but that's
      not the way to bet." (Pick up a card you know he likes, move it to the
      other side of the release line.)

      bluster, bluster, putting card back.

      "OK, but I have to defer something. What do you suggest? I can pick it if
      you want, but clearly you know better than I do what's least important. We
      can do the best job here if you help us steer."

      My guess is that if you just keep telling 'em what you know in calm terms,
      they'll pick up on the idea of steering. And if they don't, you're still
      the hottest team on the block. Someone will figure it out.

      Ron Jeffries
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