Atlassian adopts a range of development process elements with a strong focus on Agile methods. In practice each product team defines their own process while also attempting to learn from other teams. In Jira and Confluence, the two largest teams pushing roughly 10 developers each, the process is a fairly complete adoption of Scrum plus XP (eXtreme Programming).
The Other XP
My first start with XP was in 1999 when I hired a really smart engineer who learned about it from the craftite conspiracy discussions on comp.object. The project was a somewhat chaotic hero-programmer dot com boom monstrosity (we had a sauna). Introducing XP was like turning on a light. Subsequently I have had both success and failure in different teams attempting to use XP. I am no blind XP fanboy but I’ve had enough success with it to know XP can work. I’ve also trained as a “Certified Scrum Master” which does not entitle me to a pitch-side seat at the Rugby World Cup as it rightfully should.
Extreme programming, contrary to what one of our recent graduate applicants claims to have been taught, does not entail locking two people in a room and pushing pizza under the door until the job is done. Our preferred pizza contains too many toppings to fit under a door (only joking, we have no door). Actually, it’s a coherent social process which demands a lot of discipline.
Our process is a work in progress and the practices have been introduced gradually. Fortnightly we have a 1 hour meeting to improve our practices. The focus here is not how we can do XP more faithfully but how we can make a material improvement towards our high level goals by introducing changes to our process. We also have practice champions for many of the more challenging practices which means there’s someone to monitor our performance on that practice.
The key practices of XP as they are performed at Atlassian will be outlined in a follow-up post. In addition I detail some practice elements that XP does not include that we consider essential to Atlassian’s agile process. Also I explain the role of sociopaths in XP.