Enhanced Context Analysis for eXtreme Programming (XP): Describing the Big Picture

F. Keenan (Ireland) and D. Bustard (UK)


Soft Systems Methodology, eXtreme Programming, RichPicture.


Any computing system operates in and provides support for a particular environment. The importance of conducting an appropriate analysis of that environment or context is frequently stressed. Despite this, it is often overlooked in the development of many computing systems. Agile approaches to software development recognise this weakness, emphasising the need for closer customer collaboration. Essentially, a customer representative is responsible for providing the required knowledge of the environment. Nevertheless, problems remain with many difficulties reported for the customer role. The recent version of eXtreme Programming (XP), the most popular agile approach, acknowledges this with new practices recommending consideration of the broader context, taking account of the big picture. Despite this, little advice is given on how this might be implemented. This paper examines how this might be achieved by streamlining Soft Systems Methodology (SSM), a well established analysis technique, and linking it with XP. The first part of this paper describes the linked approach. This is then followed by a report on an investigation of the approach that has been assessed through experimental group projects with undergraduate computing students. The results highlight some of the strengths and weaknesses of the linkage, indicating directions for future research.

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