XP seems to be made up of a lot of practices. They might be good, but what's the bottom line for a business person? The acid test for XP isn't what the team does, but what they deliver. Here's what you should get from your XP team.

If your development team is doing XP, the programmers should be able to tell you what they’re doing as follows:

  • We programmers will work with you to break your requirements down into bite-sized chunks, called stories, each one taking around a week of programmer time. And we'll work with you to define tests for each story, that will satisfy you that the requirement is met.
  • For each story we'll give you an estimate of how long it will take to get done. We'll use those estimates, and our actual progress, so that you'll be able to see for yourself how we're doing and how much we can have done by the delivery date.
  • Every two weeks you will pick the stories that are most important to you. We'll work on those and show you your chosen tests running at the end of those two weeks. Sometimes we may get done sooner than we thought, and we'll come back to you for another important story. Sometimes, unfortunately, we might get less done than we hoped. Even then, we will have no way to hide. At the end of the two weeks, you'll know for sure what we've accomplished and you'll be able to use that information to choose what to do next. We're sure that you'll be satisfied with progress, but if you aren't, you'll know early, in plenty of time to decide what to do.
  • Software development may look somewhat like magic to you. It's not, it's just a skill like building a house or planting an attractive garden. The difference is that with a house or garden, you have to wait a long time to see how things are turning out. We take the magic out of software development by letting you choose, every two weeks, the most important things for us to work on, and by showing you, at the end of those two weeks, in terms you can understand, exactly what we have accomplished.

Is thats what’s happening on your team? Are they delivering running software, meeting customer-agreed tests, every two weeks? Are they working on, and delivering, the most important bits every two weeks?

If your team is trying to do XP and isn’t working this way yet, then there’s more for them to learn. As management, you should perhaps let them know that this is what you expect from XP, and get them the help they need to learn how to do it.

If your teams aren’t doing XP yet, think about whether concrete progress, delivering real business value every two weeks, would be useful for you. And if it would, let’s get XP going at your shop.