Assignment 2 : Comparing Agile Methodologies
Write a 4-6 page comparison of Scrum and XP for company leadership.
Note: The assessments in this course are based upon a scenario at CapraTek. You must complete the assessments in this course in the order in which they are presented.
Agile has many different methodologies. Scrum is by far the most widely adopted, but others such as Crystal, Extreme Programming (XP), FDD, and others exist as options for project managers. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of at least some of them will make you a better Agile project manager.
The Agile approach tends to be descriptive, but not proscriptive. That means it asks you to identify what has to be done, but not how to do it. As a result, there are a variety of different “flavors” of Agile methodology. Scrum is usually considered to be the most popular, but XP, Crystal, Feature-Driven Development (FDD), Kanban, and others all have proponents. These different approaches all adhere to the Agile Manifesto and the Twelve Guiding Principles, and all have been used successfully in different environments.
Scrum is a very “lightweight” Agile approach (which may help explain its popularity) and is expressed in the “Three Pillars” of Transparency, Inspection, and Adaptation. Transparency provides all team members with the same information and helps ensure that all stakeholders agree on what must be accomplished. An example of transparency is when a team needs to create a common understanding of the definition of “done” for a project. Inspection refers to frequent checks on how the project is progressing. An example would be the daily Sprint stand-up meeting. Adaptation refers to frequent actions taken in order to minimize any problems identified by an inspection. Problems can be addressed quickly as they arise.
While Scrum is not designed for any particular type of project, XP is designed specifically for software development. The “extreme” part of XP comes from its attempt to take any good software development practice to its extreme. For instance, if one programmer working on a computer is good, two programmers working together on the same computer would be better, with each developer constantly checking the other’s work. This is the reason why “pair programming” is one of the standard practices of XP.
Agile has many different methodologies. Scrum is by far the most widely adopted, but others such as Crystal, XP, and FDD exist as options. Understanding the strengths and weakness of at least some of them will make you a better Agile project manager. The CapraTek scenario asks you to compare Scrum and XP.
The following resources are required to complete the assessment.
CapraTek: Comparing Agile Methodologies.
View the CapraTek: Comparing Agile Methodologies activity.
Create a 5–6 page comparison of Scrum and XP for company leadership. It should:
Analyze how each represents the values and principles detailed in the Agile Manifesto, including identifying which principles are most important to each methodology.
Explain what project or product characteristics should dictate which method is appropriate.
Compare the essential practices or processes of each method (for example, assessment, planning, execution, review).
Compare how personnel are utilized.
Length: 5–6 pages double-spaced.
Font: 12 point Times New Roman.
References: Minimum of 4 references, using current APA style and formatting when citing and referencing your sources.
CapraTek: Comparing Agile Methodologies
After hearing the pros and cons, CapraTek leadership has decided that the Alfred! IOS software project should use an Agile project management approach.
You will be meeting with several members of the team to discuss the different approaches in order to determine which Agile approach is best for this project and team.
After completing this activity, you should be able to:
• Identify the project characteristics that you should use to determine which Agile method to use.
• Compare team and personnel characteristics to different Agile methodologies.
• Communicate your recommendations in a professional manner.
New Product Development Business Analyst
I’ve said before that I’m not completely sold on the idea of using Agile for this project, so I apologize in advance if I come across as negative. I’m not trying to be and once we get moving, I’ll be giving this 100% effort.
I’m concerned about my role – am I a member of the team or am I seen as the product owner? The latter approach makes me nervous. I know I’m not going to be given the authority to act as the owner, so I don’t really want to be in a position where I have the responsibility but not the authority. On the other hand, while I’m not a tech person, I think I’d bring a lot of insight to the team. I certainly know the business needs and that should help with setting sprints or iterations or whatever we’re calling the work periods, right?
I’m probably the only person who’s going to be making a case for XP, but I think it is an excellent choice for our project. The one XP feature I think most valuable is also the one most people resist – pair programing. I know it takes some getting used to – you all should have seen me the first time I was told I’d be writing code with someone else – and not driving! I became a convert very quickly though. Here are some of the benefits of pair programing:
Avoiding the need for code reviews
Better code quality
Less dependence on particular individuals
Greater knowledge sharing among members
Whatever approach we take, good communication between the development team is going to be very important to getting the IOS code completed within the timeframe we’ve been given.
I really appreciate Darren’s input. I suspect that he and I have the most experience with agile and it’s good to hear what’s worked well for him. For those of you less familiar, let me put this out there as a way of seeing the differences between the two approaches.
XP is seen as more prescriptive than Scrum, and I think that’s a fair assessment. Most software development teams are going to find XP engineering practices helpful. Things like the focus on testing during development, collaborative programming, simple design, and so on all tend to appeal to developers. I do worry, though, that XP may be too extreme for this project. There was resistance to implementing an Agile methodology at all, so to use XP might be moving too fast.
That’s going to be a real consideration here – the stakeholders and business owners are nervous about implementing something new when there’s so much risk associated with the Alfred! project in general. We want a plan that reassures, not one that we’re asking them to take a real leap of faith.
I think we need to address the elephant in the room – that is the organizational culture and the need for senior leadership buy-in. Agile can be hard for some, shall we say, traditional leaders. The executive leadership here – and they wouldn’t deny this – are old school tech guys and they tend to be very analytical and linear in their thinking. Very linear.
The problem is that we’re not solving linear problems any more. Our senior managers and executives see a problem and look for a single cause. Once they find the cause and fix it, the problem should be solved. Unfortunately, the complexity of today’s world and the ways we do business mean that linear thinking doesn’t usually work anymore.
So – what does this have to do with us? I’d say that whatever approach we take, we need to be cognizant that we’re operating in an organization that is risk and change averse. There are those of us in the organization who are trying to make changes, but you need to know why you’re getting pushback when it happens
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