Here at XTIVIA, we have standardized on an agile process we’ve coined as XDLC (XTIVIA Development Lifecycle). XDLC is largely based on Scrum and other agile techniques that enable us to quickly deliver maximum value for our Enterprise Portal/Java customers.
We chose Scrum because – like most other proponents of agile approaches – we value:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Completed functionality over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a plan
In our XDLC we use tailored versions of Product Backlogs, Sprint Backlogs, Daily Stand-ups, Sprint Reviews and Retrospectives.
One modification we made to orthodox Scrum is to use hours instead of story points when calculating the estimates for our Product Backlog stories. Why did we do this? Two reasons. First, our customer engagement process is based on billable hours. We capture customer requirements, analyze them and provide a task breakdown and cost estimate based on hours and dollars; measures that every customer understands and can use immediately in their decision-making. Second, given this, it did not make sense for us to spend valuable customer time converting from hours to story points simply to adhere to orthodoxy. Note that when estimating future phases of a multi-phase project roadmap or when deriving rough-order-of-magnitude estimates, we will sometimes resort to story points depending on stakeholder sophistication and their preferences.
Another modification we made to orthodox Scrum is to when planning for the next Sprint occurs and the amount of time we spend on it. Our own planning sessions for the next sprint occur near the end of the last week of the current Sprint. We chose this approach because we devote the majority of the last two-three days of a Sprint to resolving defects found in user testing and deployment activities. These activities do not typically consume all of our resources, so we determined the most effective use of their time is to plan the stories from the Product Backlog which will make it into that next Sprint.
In keeping with the ethos of “responding to change over following a plan” we are constantly on the lookout for ways to improve our XDLC.
More on our XDLC in future posts…stay tuned!