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Scrum vs. XP Planning Game

 
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One project I'm involved in is about 4 years old now, and the software has evolved far beyond the original concept (which is fine, I work for an R&D lab, after all.) We started out doing vanilla XP, as "by the book" as we could, but over time, as the sofwtare diversified, and the pile of user stories grew, our iteration planning changed, to the point where what we do to plan an iteration is basically ask the user community to vote for high-priority stories, then peel as many off the top of the huge pile as we think we can do in three weeks. The software will never be finished as it's a research code, so there's no pretense of dividing the big pile up into future planned iterations. In addition, we release to the users every iteration.

We had been describing what we're doing as modified XP; we stil do all the typical XP code-construction processes during an iteration, but as I said, planning is quite different. But then I read "User Stories Applied" by Mike Cohn, and he's got a section about applying stories to Scrum, and I said Hey, that's what we're doing! So I think we independently invented the Scrum process.

Anybody here doing anything similar? Anybody have any compare/contrast opinions or war stories about Scrum, user stories, and XP? I've got the classic Scrum book on order from Amazon, and it ought to get here in a day or three.
[ September 02, 2004: Message edited by: Ernest Friedman-Hill ]
 
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How exactly is your practice different from XP's planning game (where you also ask the customer to prioritize from a big pile of stories)?
 
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What you are doing sounds a lot like Petition The King.
 
Ernest Friedman-Hill
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Originally posted by Lasse Koskela:
How exactly is your practice different from XP's planning game (where you also ask the customer to prioritize from a big pile of stories)?



In the classic XP model, most of the significant stories are written at the beginning of the project, they're divided into "must have", "nice to have", "won't have" piles, and tentative iteration lists are built out of all the stories. Furthermore, "the customer speaks with one voice" which suggests a certain kind of coherence among the priorities; there's also the ability for the single customer to make tradeoffs among the priorities based on feedback of various kinds.

As the project goes on, new stories may be added, but their number is fewer than the original number, and you're driving towards a goal state in which the number of (must have/nice to have) stories goes to zero.

In what we're doing, we know there will never be an end state, and new "must have" stories appear regularly. We deal with many customers separately, and there's no single customer voice. There's a kind of "tragedy of the commons" dynamic going on, in that everyone wants to consume all the resources themselves. As a result, it's up to us to evaluate the business value based on the relative importance of the different user groups to the company.

It's not utterly, completely different, but there's enough qualitative difference that we can't honestly call what we're doing "The Planning Game." I was excited to learn about Scrum just because it's nice to have a name for what I think we're doing.
 
Ernest Friedman-Hill
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Originally posted by Ilja Preuss:
What you are doing sounds a lot like Petition The King.



A little, except that Ron's point in that proposal was that you don't keep the backlog at all, whereas we definitely do. We think it's important because sometimes we get a story card and we don't understand how to technically make it fit into the project, but over time as other things happen we figure it out. By adding notes to that story over time, we accumulate knowledge which would otherwise be lost. If we didn't keep the backlog, we wouldn't have a place to put this information.
 
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Originally posted by Ernest Friedman-Hill:
In the classic XP model, most of the significant stories are written at the beginning of the project, they're divided into "must have", "nice to have", "won't have" piles, and tentative iteration lists are built out of all the stories.



Well, it's common practice to gather all the known important stories up front, yes. I don't think it's un-XPis, or even untypical for an XP project, to get a whole bunch of new important stories after the project has started, though. I'd rather think that XP deliberately is agnostic regarding how much the stories will change.

As the project goes on, new stories may be added, but their number is fewer than the original number, and you're driving towards a goal state in which the number of (must have/nice to have) stories goes to zero.



Where do you get this from?

To me, an XP project ends when the Customer can't come up with stories worth the investment of another iteration. A good project, though, may well never end.

If an XP project puts an end date into the iteration plan, than it's because the Customer typically wants to know "how much will this project cost me?" It's not a requirement to do XP, as I see it.

We deal with many customers separately, and there's no single customer voice. There's a kind of "tragedy of the commons" dynamic going on, in that everyone wants to consume all the resources themselves. As a result, it's up to us to evaluate the business value based on the relative importance of the different user groups to the company.



That's also quite common in XP projects - that you have several stake holders expecting different things from the project. "Customer speaks with one voice" just means that you need to have someone inside the team who has the final say.

It's not utterly, completely different, but there's enough qualitative difference that we can't honestly call what we're doing "The Planning Game."



From what you said, I'd probably still call it the Planning Game. But who cares - important is not that you are doing XP, but that you have success! And, after all, "they are just rules"...

I was excited to learn about Scrum just because it's nice to have a name for what I think we're doing.





BTW, as far as I know, the XP Planning Game is heavily influenced by SCRUM.
 
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