Generally, developers just laughed at the XP practices, but only until they realized that something important had changed: the feeling of hopelessness was gone. They could finally see themselves make real, tangible progress, and that made them quickly embrace the program.
Morale And Motivation
The most significant changes happened in the area of morale and motivation. Daily stand-up meetings and incremental planning with real-time adjustments led to goals being clear and attainable. It was no longer "oh no, here is this tremendous task for the next 3 months that I have no idea if I am ever going to complete" but rather, "these are small tasks that I have to do today." If someone had four small tasks to complete for the day, and saw that he had already crossed off three, and if he only stayed an extra 30 minutes, he could complete the last one, he would do it, go home proud and come back the next morning even more energized and motivated.
At the same time, a great deal of pressure was eliminated by moving from Waterfall top-down scope management to a business value-based discussion that involved the development team. The engineers were finally being asked, "How much can you accomplish in this time?" "Can you do it with the agreed level of quality?" Knowing that no wild change request would suddenly fall out of the sky tomorrow helped developers relax and focus on tasks at hand, which led to great increases in productivity.
Another boost to team's motivation came from the fact that management team demoted itself and was involved hands-on. The CEO effectively assumed the role of program manager, negotiating quality and performance targets with the clients. The EVP became a project manager and moved from his office to the project room for three months, participating in stand-up meetings every morning. And, the project manager became one of the team leads, taking on the most challenging part of the project with his team.
This particular project is currently in production, end users of the system are happy, and our relationship with CSC is stronger than ever. Part of this success is clearly attributable to the use of XP. Although we would not argue that a project of any size, no matter how large, can be successfully implemented under the XP paradigm, we have no doubt that the use of certain elements of XP, if done correctly, can benefit almost any project in immediately obvious ways.
About the Labka II Program
The program team comprises over 120 staff from CSC Denmark, CSC UK, CSC France, CSC Sweden, and StarSoft Development Labs in St. Petersburg, Russia. Labka II is CSC's largest Nordic offshore program, with over 80 StarSoft team members based in St. Petersburg. CSC has 5-10 team members working on-site with StarSoft. Currently the first release of Labka II is live at five sites in Denmark supporting 1800 end users, and will be live at nine sites with 8000 end users by the end of September.
(St. Petersburg Labka II Development Center) (CSC and StarSoft Architects in St. Petersburg)
(One of Labka II sites) (One of Labka II sites)
About the Author
Peter Vaihansky is the Vice President of StarSoft Development Labs. With headquarters in Cambridge, MA and development centers in Eastern Europe, StarSoft provides software development outsourcing management expertise and services to global US and European companies including: Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), T-Mobile, IBM, Fellowes,