Home > Articles

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

Controlling Risk with XP

By now you should have a definite sense that software development is a risky business, surrounded by uncertainty and change. There are however, some common risks with software development that we can highlight:

  • Schedule slips—As the work progress it becomes clear that the delivery date is unreachable.

  • Project cancelled—This is more of a problem when the project size is larger. The customer has been spending huge amounts of money for no perceived business value and they finally pull the plug.

  • No business acceptance—The system was developed far from the end users and failed to work the way they wanted. The cost or pain of changing the business was too high.

  • Technical complexity—The tools or platforms chosen are untried and prove too difficult to integrate.

  • Defect rates high—The quality of the system is shown to be very low, defects are either overlooked or not tracked. When in the hands of the user the system is buggy and defect-ridden. Litigation, rework on commercial impacts are the result.

XP addresses these risks head on by building quality into the software and delivering working software in very small release cycles. Before we tackle our risks, let's review an example of how not to run a software development project.

INCIS: A Case Study of a Software Disaster

In 1994 the New Zealand Police awarded a tender to IBM for the development and delivery of its Integrated National Computerized Information System (INCIS). INCIS was slated to be the first law enforcement information management system in the world to link all aspects of police work at a national level. Five years and $67.5 million later, the project had been scrapped, $15 million over budget and with little, if any, real result. As you'd expect with a disaster of this scale, there was no single root problem. There were some obvious contributing factors:

  • Complexity—The project was both technically and operationally extremely complex. The level of this complexity was greatly underestimated. This risk was never highlighted or dealt with.

  • Technical problems—Initially IBM developed their client machines under OS/2; in 1996 they switched to Windows NT at an estimated rework cost of $3.5 million.

  • Unreasonable deadlines—Deadlines were not based on real estimates of time to complete; politics and marketing set impossible dates that were never met.

  • Overly optimistic, blinded management—Any issues raised by development staff were typically squashed under the "think positive" regime.

  • Big Bang approach—Almost all the work had to be completed before the users saw the system. The idea was to replace the old system with a single cut-over. A pilot was run for part of the system, but the results were ignored.

  • Silver bullet syndrome—Politicians and management placed their faith in technology and tools such as high-level computer languages to overcome obstacles. Due to the length of the project some of these technologies, such as OS/2, became obsolete.

  • Waterfall approach—The functional specification ran to more than 4,000 pages and had more than 900 variations over the lifetime of the project. It wasn't until the users actually saw the system that they understood what those 4,000 pages spelled out. Naturally, numerous changes were requested late in development, and with the Waterfall approach, this was expensive.

What can you learn from this software disaster? Software development needs to be done in a dynamic, change-friendly environment, and the software itself is the best form of specification. The project managers on the INCIS project made the mistake of confusing documentation with communication.

NOTE

For the official report into this software disaster see http://www.justice.govt.nz/pubs/reports/2000/incis_rpt/schedules/schedule_6.html.

Averting Disaster with XP

You now know the all-to-common risks associated with software development, and you've learned how one project (INCIS) failed because of some of them—namely, Waterfall development, unreasonable deadlines, single release approach, and complexities inherent in the technology. XP has direct ways of mitigating and overcoming these risks. Table 3.2 lists our risks and explains how XP deals with them.

Table 3.2 How XP Mitigates Risk

Risk

Mitigation

Schedule slips

XP has very short release cycles; any slippage or change is very small. The highest business value features are delivered first and the customer can actually see the software (not merely documentation about the system).

Project cancelled

In an XP project, since the most important work is done up-front, if the project is cancelled, the XP team/company at least achieved some functionality. This is unlike most software projects, where teams spend the first six months in planning, and if its cancelled, the company is left with nothing to show for it. The XP approach reduces budgetary risk.

No business acceptance

The customer is part of the development team on a full-time basis. They select the functionality being delivered and can guide as necessary. There is no need to create buy-in because they developed the solution with the rest of the team.

Technical complexity

The XP practice of continuous integration means that the team is at ease with integrating the complete system, and there is no "big bang" before delivery. The value of simplicity drives code quality through practices such as code standards, pair programming, collective ownership, and refactoring.

Defect rates high

The use of automated testing and test-first programming establishes low defect counts as a way of life. Issues with functional defects and cosmetic changes are uncovered early by the on-site customer.


Yes, software development is risky, but with XP we have a structured environment where we can expose and deal with issues before we have another project disaster on our hands.

  • + 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.

Overview


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.

Surveys

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.

Newsletters

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.

Security


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

Children


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

Marketing


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.

Choice/Opt-out


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.

Links


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