How an Extreme Programming (XP) Team operates? | Stories | Quarterly Cycle | Weekly Cycle | Slack

how an extreme programming xp team operates - How an Extreme Programming (XP) Team operates? | Stories | Quarterly Cycle | Weekly Cycle | Slack

There are many similarities that Extreme Programming (XP) has with Scrum. Just like Scrum, XP is also an iterative and incremental methodology. It encapsulates the idea of making decisions at the last responsible moment which is derived from the second Agile principle.

But above all this, just like Scrum, XP teams also use stories. They follows a Quarterly Cycle for backlog planning. This is further broken down into iterations called the Weekly Cycle. Slack is a new practice that XP teams use by adding extra capacity to each iteration. Slack isn’t something you will find in Scrum.


Stories work the exact same way in XP as Scrum. XP teams also add rough estimate and may even use planning poker for estimation

The popular story format – “As a… I want to… So that…” is also common.

image - How an Extreme Programming (XP) Team operates? | Stories | Quarterly Cycle | Weekly Cycle | Slack

Quarterly Cycle

Team meets once a quarter to discuss the following,

  1. Reflect on what happened in the past quarter
  2. Discuss the big picture i.e. the company’s focus and how the XP team fits into it
  3. Plan themes for the quarter to ensure long-term goal alignment (each theme is an overall goal used to group stories together)
  4. Plan the backlog for quarter along with users and stakeholders

Note that XP teams use themes to make sure they don’t lose sight of the big picture. A theme is just like a sprint goal in Scrum i.e. a sentence or two that describes what they want to accomplish.

Weekly Cycle

Just like Scrum, the XP team chooses stories that are “Done” by the end of the week and a working software is delivered. Each week starts with a meeting where the team,

  1. Demos the working software for the changes they have done last week
  2. Works with customer to pick the stories to deliver this week
  3. Decomposes the stories into tasks

XP teams are self organizing teams so they create a pile of tasks and each team member pulls the task from it. The weekly cycle starts on the same day each week and even the planning meeting is held at the same time each week. Customer is typically part of this meeting. As opposed to the general rule, most XP teams start their weekly cycle on Tuesdays or Wednesdays so that the teams are not required to work over the weekends.


XP teams add a slack in every plan i.e. includes a small number of optional or minor items that they can drop if they start to fall behind. Some XP teams like to block out “hack days” or even “geek weeks” during the quarter where teams can work on their own work-related projects and follow up on good ideas that may have gotten swept under the rug! Make sure you aren’t overdoing Slack though. Usually only one or two slack items are included in the weekly cycle. Typically slack takes less than 20% time in the weekly cycle.

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