Follow the sun: distributed extreme programming development

Author(s): Yap, Monica.
Venue: Agile Conference, 2005. Proceedings
Date: 24 - 29 July 2005

Type of Experiement: Case Study




Follow the Sun is a study on WDSGlobal's creation of a global extreme programming team. WDSGlobal has development locations in the US, UK, and Signapore. The UK team had been using Java and an extreme programming model, while the other two teams worked in a traditional waterfall model and did not use object-oriented methods. The goal of the globalization was to reduce duplication and increase communication amongst the three development teams.

An Extreme Programming Coach was hired for each region unfamiliar with extreme programming. The coach remained onsite throughout the duration of the study; duties of the coach included training developers on Java, object-oriented programming, and extreme programming, helping the business side of the company adjust to the new processes, hiring experienced developers, and coordinating with the other coaches weekly.

Different physical locations, time zones, and cultures became an obstacle for the global development team. The teams adopted an exchange program to rotate developers amongst the different locations in order to build understanding and trust. The time differences occurred in such a fashion that at the end of a development team's day, another development team was starting it's day; this led to a handoff of tasks and collaboration of ideas via video conferencing. Additionally, developers at different locations would sometimes pair program through use of VNC, teleconferencing, and a common IDE.

Overall, the company considered the switch to a global extreme programming team to be a success. Allowing slight flexibilities in the processes used across the different sites, and facilitating trust amongst the locations were key factors in the success of the project.