Thursday, October 14, 2004

Installing XP

Having moved on from ThoughtWorks for personal reasons, I find myself in an interesting position. My new employer SimDesk is a mixture of old-style top-down development practice and new-style agile practices struggling to get out. One of my top tasks is helping good triumph over bad in that struggle. What's highest on my task list?

Get CruiseControl running
Without continuous integration builds, it is very hard to track just where the source code base for a project stands. My boss is very excited by this, and now I'm just waiting for an official machine to run on.
Daily stand ups
Daily stand ups keep everyone in the loop, help developers get a larger picture of things and are a great leveler. Not happening yet, but I hope to get some buy in this week.
User story notecards
This is a major point against old-style waterfall. User story notecards are a very visible difference and lead to using development as part of the design process, and to short release cycles. Best news yet: my boss and his boss—who is acting on behalf of the actual customer—were fine with this. I have notecards stuck up on my wall now! And with XP-style estimates.

None of this would have been possible without the environment of ThoughtWorks. The place is like grad-school for best practices; a year there is worth four years at most other places. Now if only they had a Houston office.

UPDATE: I left out mention of the great resource, Extreme Programming Installed by Jeffries et al. And there is a bonus: a group here is alread using an internal Wiki which I immediately latched onto for posting story cards and working out design problems, plus some XP envangelizing. Plus I a co-lead agreed to start daily morning stand up meetings next week. I also find that a small satellite group in Austin is using Scrum, but I don't know that much about it. All in all a good environment to build upon.

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