In a recent blog, we discussed what extreme programming (XP) is and how it differs from other agile methodologies. We also explored when you should use it, as unlike other agile frameworks it won’t work for just any project —XP is best suited to high-risk, unpredictable development projects with shifting deadlines and requirements. But, assuming your project fits that description, what are the benefits of using XP?
An extreme programming project is a lot like a jigsaw puzzle: each developer works on one small piece at a time and eventually the disparate pieces are assembled into a more complete product. That may sound inconsequential, but in practice this approach leads to software that is delivered quicker and with fewer defects — with each piece of the puzzle receiving regular testing so any bugs are caught earlier in development.
Additionally, XP encourages constant communication and collaboration, so project managers are also updated with any potential setbacks and other developers are always on hand to crack any particularly tricky code issues.
Traditional approaches to programming are most effective when requirements remain static, but modern development is far more responsive then in the past. Now, developers are often focused on making fast and frequent changes to existing code based on customer or market behaviours.
Extreme programming accommodates frequent changes in requirements by getting user stories at the start of iterations, and through regular feedback during the course of the sprint.
3. Easier to Cost
Because the project can be broken down into small coding blocks, assessing developer activity, turnaround time and cost is a lot simpler. This allows customers to make informed decisions on which features should be included, ultimately ‘cutting the fat’ and reducing project cost as a by-product.
4. Fewer Risks
With teamwork at its core, XP reduces many of the risks associated with programming. Whereas traditional methods often rely heavily on one or two critical members of a team to do much of the heavy lifting, XP spreads the load between your entire array of developers. By breaking tasks into modules, the dependence on any individual is lessened.
5. Employee Satisfaction
Finally, an XP methodology actually makes for happier staff. Not only does it reduce the pressure on individual team members, its value-centric approach sets fixed work time, negating the need for the long hours and overtime.
What’s more, due to the nature of XP and its emphasis on respect and teamwork, your programmers are more likely to enjoy their work and collaborating with each other, boosting retention rates in the process.
XP is a great methodology for mitigating the risks of particularly complex or changeable projects and is at its most potent when you have a small, tight-knit team working in close collaboration with the client. As such, its practices are designed almost exclusively for fast-paced and dynamic dev teams.
This introduces the obvious caveat that if your project involves multiple teams within your business, XP may run into trouble. A great example of this in practice is projects that involve the operations arm of your business. Operations and Dev teams rarely utilise the same practices or work at the same pace, which can cause bottlenecks, communication issues and, ultimately, delays.
So, for projects that span departmental lines, it’s best to use XP as part of a larger superstructure or in conjunction with another methodology, like DevOps. The two share many practices and values, so combining them is perfect for creating a framework that doesn’t sacrifice the benefits of XP but includes your whole business. To learn more about implementing DevOps, download our guide.