Book Review of Scrum and XP From the Trenches

Friday, January 25, 2008 – 1:18 PM

Scrum and XP from the trenches by Henrik Kniberg. I mentioned this book the other day as part of my post on books to read when choosing an agile process. I’m mentioning it again for two reasons; 1) it’s a great read and 2) it’s a really great read. See if something’s that good you should say so twice!

So why is it so good? Well, many (agile) process books are a bit like reading a book the theory of design patterns – a lot of it is abstract. This book is more like digging through source code that makes some good uses of interesting patterns – a lot of concrete examples. This means that it’s very specific to a single instance of a Scrum/XP team and that team’s specific problems and how they addressed them.

The author, Henrik Kniberg, is pretty clear about what worked really well and what worked not so well as well as what they tried and what’s speculation on his part. The bits I really liked were:

  • Lots of good ideas on how to run multiple teams (Ch. 15). We struggled with this when building a process for the VSTO Team. Henrik covers many of the options we considered and also suggests the idea of a firefighting team – I wish we’d considered this as another option to protect our feature crews from asks from other teams for sustained engineering and Vista migration work. We sort of did but didn’t think about it in the same way.
  • The how we do sprint planning chapter (Ch. 4) is very clear. Not many new ideas here for me but I think it’s a good explanation of how I would do this – although they were co-located so not much help here for distributed teams.
  • Like a lot of people they’ve struggled with being “done done” inside a sprint (Ch. 14) and in that respect some of they differ from idea Scrum but there’s some good ideas here on reducing the amount of deferred test work.

It’s also a very quick read. I’ve been recommending it to my team here at p&p.

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