Home > Articles > Software Development & Management > Agile

  • Print
  • + Share This
Like this article? We recommend

Selling XP

It's clear that you need to try to implement XP into your environment. One thing to consider before rushing out to buy the books or download the tools: selling. Implementing XP at MySoftwareDevelopmentShop.com is going to mean that you have to sell the idea to customers, management, and developers.

How Do I Sell to Customers?

I've found that customers are the easiest to sell the idea of XP to! The important thing to get across is the business value that XP brings. Customers get these benefits:

  • They can change their minds.

  • They control and have visibility on what functions are developed.

  • They get a system that has been developed on a solid, repeatable test framework, and quality is built in.

  • Deliverables are produced that have direct value to them; the process is not propped up by documents that no one reads.

  • The development process is aligned to their own need to be agile in the marketplace.

  • You're supporting their short-time-to-market driver with a "real" process (not just working hard and adding more resources).

  • Course corrections can be made easily; the development is bundled into small releases.

  • Developers are happier and therefore nicer to work with. (This is a real issue!)

Is the use of the word extreme a problem when describing the process? I've found that it takes 30 seconds to explain where the X in XP comes from. Customers are more interested in how you plan to deliver value to them. Also, they have probably had some high-level exposure to XP in the press and have a sense for the context.

Selling to management, now that's another story...

How Do I Sell to Management?

Management maybe concerned that the programmers are in charge! I heard a senior manager complaining lately that XP was "developer heaven" and "polarized customers/developers." This highlights a problem you have to overcome in your role as XP champion; a perception that extreme programming is, well, programming. Too bad about the P in XP; we're stuck with it until some corporate monster takes over and re-badges it (imagine AcmeXP). To simplify a little, upper management is concerned with a few things:

  • Completing the project within the budget (no funny money or black market in time here).

  • The customer is happy and comes back for more work.

  • Workers are happy and keep working.

  • Estimates are accurate and support the sale side.

We'll give them the benefit of the doubt on the third point! Up-skilling developers so that they can use the latest tools is almost important (yeah, right). The way to sell to management then is to explain that:

  • XP uses small release cycles so management is very granular.

  • You can XP with a fixed-priced contract.

  • We can complete faster by the use of all practices together.

  • We do some if not most of the practices now; we're just doing them in the extreme.

  • Management can change XP names (such as the planning game) to whatever they want for marketing or cultural-safety reasons.

  • XP has been tried and tested in commercial environments.

  • We're not throwing out the baby with the bathwater; we'll still use existing methodologies and tools where they make sense.

  • Management will get better control and visibility of the process.

  • The company will have a new weapon that most competitors don't have (at the moment, anyway).

Another tactic is to target a manager who is predisposed to the use of agile or new methods. Careful care and feeding of this manager will strengthen your case when it comes to showing your hand. Recognize that management may in turn have to explain this new approach to their superiors; create whatever tools will help them do this. Typically these tools are simple (short) presentations with supporting documentation as appropriate. A fine balance between going under the radar and seeking executive buy-in is a challenge but will reward in the end.

One final aspect. Avoid leaving management with the idea that XP is a grab bag of practices from which you can pick whichever practice you want. Reinforce that the practices work together and that the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. The alternative is that, run with only a few practices, your project fails to deliver and XP is cast as the villain. You may get only one shot at this; choose wisely!

How Do I Sell to Developers?

First, how not to sell the concept to developers: Start talking about pair programming and how great it is! I know because I did this; I excitedly espoused all of the "programmer aspects" of XP. What you say and what they hear can be quite different.

You say...

They think...

Collective ownership

Oh, anyone can change my code—great!


No up-front design; it'll end in spaghetti.

Test first

I don't test; I develop.

Pair programming

I work best alone. I'm so fast I do the work of two.(Actual quote!)


I complete the work and then I redo to get it right? That's what I call rework!

Those are shark-infested waters, folks. What do developers really care about?

  • Coding—the joy of programming (mostly!)

  • Control over their machine and environment

  • Freedom

  • Using the coolest tools

  • Quality of work

  • Recognition

  • Projects rather than maintenance

It's an interesting paradox. Developers who like the newest tools, betas, and bits at the same time may dislike environmental change. Your mission is to seek out the most receptive developers in your team and to weave your spell of XP on them. Here are some angles that may help:

  • You'll use tools that automate the boring tasks of build and test.

  • "Test first" sounds weird, but you have easy-to-use frameworks (xUnit) that will help.

  • The work week is restricted to 40 hours (overtime is infrequent).

  • Developers don't write any documentation! (Favorite aspect of XP.)

  • XP values and drives quality in code.

  • Meetings are very short.

  • Pair programming is different; why not try for a few weeks? (Have those case studies up your sleeve, just in case.)

  • Project managers have gone away; you get a "coach" now—someone who is technical.

Often you'll find that the more senior developers are harder to sway toward XP. Listen to their concerns, be honest when you don't know, and stay humble. If you mandate and demand, it will scatter your team. Watch out for polarization and stamp it out.

Baby Steps

You've got to start somewhere, so go ahead and move the furniture. In a recent (perhaps flawed) implementation of XP, the team was separated by walls and partitions. One pair of programmers was on either side of the Chinese wall. The ambient noise rose to train-station levels and positioning of the team outside of the lift (elevator) well didn't help communication (see Figure 1).

Figure 1 Poorly implemented XP environment.

You're not likely to get the chance to skunk-works your XP in a downtown warehouse, complete with Playstations and beanbags. We're still selling XP at this stage, and this means a soft approach. No wholesale decorating. (I remember turning our sterile break room into the "lava lounge," complete with lava lamp and 70s memorabilia. I prefixed my request with, "I want to do something and it won't cost the company any money!")

In the style of lightweight (er, excuse me, agile), start with any alterations you can get away with. At the end of all of the heaving, groaning, and squeaking, you should have at least the following:

  • An open area where two developers can sit around each machine

  • Some kind of meeting area where project information can be fixed to the wall

  • Separation from any other noisy area

  • Space for the customer(s) to sit

  • Quick and easy access to snacks (and beer in our beer-friendly New Zealand)

Figure 2 shows what one of our XP projects looks like.

Figure 2 Good XP working environment.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020