Forming successful extreme programming teams

Author(s): Gray, A.; Jackson, A.; Stamouli, I.; Shiu Lun Tsang
Venue: 2006 Agile Conference
Date: 23-28 July 2006

Type of Experiement: Case Study




Forming successful extreme programming teams is an academic study following a final-year course at Trinity College Dublin. The purposed of the study was to evaluate the effects of "buy-in" - the amount the participants believed in the process - on the results of a software project. The authors hypothesized that the groups with the highest buy-in to extreme programming would achieve the best results. Students were split into six teams of 3 or 4 members each. Teams were assigned based on understanding of extreme programming, previous work experiences, and programming-related academic performance. Teams were evaluated before the start of the project to have either a high-, medium-, or low-performance potential; an expected business value was attributed to each team, and compared to the actual business value of the completed project at the end of the course.

Qualitative and quantitative data was gathered from the students, extreme programming coaches, and customers. Team C - one of the medium-performing groups - was determined to have the highest level of buy-in; at the end of the course, their project exceeded their expected business value. Team A - the high-performing group - had a low buy-in to extreme programming, and delivered a product that did not meet the original expectations. This data supports the authors' hypothesis.

While the teams' results generally followed the authors' hypothesis, some of the supporting data may lead to some concerns. Team A, the team who underperformed, had personality conflicts; all members of the team had the same personality profile based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test. This personality conflict may have contributed to the low relative performance of the team. Additionally, one of the teams that only had a "medium" buy-in to extreme programming performed just as well as the "high" buy-in Team C. The authors suggested the team's adoption of the extreme programming principles outweighed their buy-in of said principles.