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It is hard to do XP in traditional cubicles and offices. Instead, the team should be clustered together. In most places we have worked, there is an area for programmers, another for graphic designers, and still another for project managers. This setup impedes pairing from different departments and can often lead to warring groups unwilling to share responsibility.
It is much more productive to place people together randomly , with the project manager sitting beside a programmer or a programmer beside a graphic designer and a copywriter. If at all possible, put junior people close to senior people. If you can, try to provide a nonworking space for people's belongings. When you do this you break down attachments to workstations and people end up working close to those they are interacting with, breaking and forming attachments as needed. Desk attachment is hard to overcome , but when you succeed the whole process of pairing becomes organic.
Desks and Chairs
Give everyone big surfaces. We would rather have someone at a big $40 folding table than at a small $400 desk. There should be room to spread out cards and sketches . Everyone should have enough space to host a second person at her station.
Invest in good chairs for workstations that provide ample support for the back. You get much better work out of people when they can function in comfort . In our company all the furniture combined cost less than one of our chairs. Be sure that the chairs you pick are adjustable to fit the needs of different- sized people and that they can easily roll from one desk to another. If you do it right, people will become more territorial about their chair than about the desk they are working at.
Hardware and Platforms
After chairs, if you splurge anywhere , do it on big monitors and good computers. Web development uses a lot of software at the same time, and most of it has substantial RAM and processing requirements. Browsers and IDEs are pigs and will crawl if not given tremendous power. Many developers will want to see a browser and their development tool, be it Photoshop or Visual Studio, at the same time. Big monitors also make working in tandem easier.
Get your graphic designers off Macintoshes! We are big Mac fans and have a great deal of respect for the operating system (OS), but it is a fact of life that most Web team use Windows. Furthermore, Macs are brighter than PCs. So many times we have seen a design created and shown to the customer on a Mac and then found that it was too dark for the general audience, which is 95 percent Windows users. It pains us to say it, but every Web development tool that we have ever seen is either not available for Mac or has a perfectly good equivalent on Windows. Photoshop and Illustrator are identical on both platforms. The only role with an argument for having a Mac is the tester and then only if the customer has selected to support the platform.
A Shared Repository
Once everyone is working on the same platform, you should make an image of a clean install of the OS and all of the applications that anyone on the team uses. Doing this allows you to install a fresh computing environment for everyone when software changes or when a computer is having a problem. With all files in a shared repository, it is possible for a developer to sit at any station to do her work.
Buy several round tables and place them out of earshot of the development environment. Often groups of three or more will need a place to go off and collaborate on a problem. If you don't establish these areas, noise will become a problem. Use your worst chairs in these quiet areas. It should never be comfortable to sit in a meeting all day.
Walls are for writing on. Every piece of wall should be available for posting status information, stories, and designs. Everyone should be able to draw a design on the wall to illustrate a point. In some places the walls are covered with a whiteboard wallpaper so the team can draw and erase anywhere.
Snacks should be readily available, and food should be brought in regularly. Some people see this as extravagant, but it is actually very cost effective. One developer walking to a store to get a bottle of water costs more than providing water for the entire team for a week. Chips, pop, water, cookies, and crunchy vegetables should be restocked weekly. Give the project manager a budget. We bet you can keep the larder full for less than the price of one billable hour a week. If the team is working through a meal, bring one in for them. Don't make this a practice, though. Lunch breaks are an important rest from the project that everyone needs.
|I l @ ve RuBoard|