The Bold, New Extreme Programming Experiment - Now In Its Ninth Year
In 2001, Follett Software Company (FSC) began work on the next generation of its library software. Many options were considered, including sending the effort off shore. In April 2001, members of the Destiny team attended a C-SPIN meeting where Martin Fowler spoke about Extreme Programming (XP). In what was considered a bold experiment at the time, the team chose to adopt an XP process “the most well-known and controversial” of the new agile processes.
This experience report will tell of a “do-it-yourself” Agile success story, with changes, challenges and lessons learned along the way.
This is a “Telling your stories” report - I welcome suggestions for the best stage.
This experience report could appeal to a broad range of people, from skeptics who haven’t tried agile to practicing agilists interested in how another team has approached growth and change. The story is told by a member of the team who began as an agile developer and is currently in a coach/technical lead role.
*Per the posted comments, I am fine with doing this as a 45 minute session if that is best. As a 45 minute session, I would plan for 30-35 minutes of talking and 10-15 minutes for specific questions of interest. *
As a 90 minute session, I would go into more examples and depth and would plan more time for Q&A - perhaps 60 minutes talking, 30 minutes Q&A. I would open for questions between topics to engage the audience rather than saving questions until the end. For example, after I discuss how the Destiny team has integrated testers, others might have questions about challenges they are having testing and if/how we solved similar issues.
In 2001, Follett Software Company (FSC) began plans for its next generation of its library software. The project was code named “Destiny”. In April of 2001, members of the Destiny team attended a Chicago Software Process Improvement Network (C-SPIN) meeting where Martin Fowler did a presentation on Extreme Programming (XP). In what was considered a bold experiment at the time, the team chose to use XP “the most well-known and controversial” of the new agile processes.
The Destiny code name stuck and Destiny is now the clear leader in the K-12 library market.
At Agile 2008, the Destiny team was one of the Agile teams featured in Michael Mah’s “Measuring Agile” presentation, which documented the high velocity and low defect rates of two agile software projects.
The team has grown from 12 to 51, and Destiny has grown into a suite of K-12 products. The Destiny team has experienced remarkably low turnover, with all 8 of the original developers still Follett employees and 6 of the 8 still on the Destiny team.
While we have been working with XP, tweaked our process, and have experienced continued success, many changes have occurred. The team doubled in size twice. Leads have come and gone. Product priorities have changed. Our web interface became outdated. We had so many tests, they took too long to run (and that was 7 years ago). Built largely on open source technology, our product has scaled up to larger and larger school districts and even an entire state running our textbook product.
What have been the pain points over the years? How has our process adapted as we have grown? What have we done differently from “pure XP” and why? What have we tried that worked? What have we tried that didn’t work? How has the rest of the business adjusted to an agile development team?
In this session, I will tell the Destiny story and some of the lessons learned along the way.
- Find out how one team succeeded with XP and what tweaks they made to XP along the way.
- Learn about challenges a long-running agile team faced that may be in your future.
- Take away ideas that might work for your own team.