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Timebox Development. Mike O’Dell Based on an earlier presentation by Bill Farrior, UTA, modified by Mike O’Dell. FUNCTIONALITY. DEADLINE. What is a Timebox?. What is a Timebox?. A Rapid Application Development (RAD) technique that: focuses on schedule

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timebox development

Timebox Development

Mike O’Dell

Based on an earlier presentation by

Bill Farrior, UTA, modified by Mike O’Dell

what is a timebox3
What is a Timebox?
  • A Rapid Application Development (RAD) technique that:
    • focuses on schedule
    • imposes a fixed time limit of a project
    • focuses on critical requirements
    • forbids (further) scope creep
    • does NOT work for all types of projects
      • very large projects
      • projects in core business area(s)
    • is often deployed with other RAD techniques, such as Evolutionary Prototyping, CASE, SWAT and JAD

CSE 4317

why consider timebox
Why Consider Timebox?
  • Things don’t always go as planned
    • Scope changes
    • Estimates were in accurate
    • People
  • Timebox Development provides a way to redefine the product to fit the schedule
    • Schedule is the priority
    • Avoids the “90% complete” problem
    • Controls product definition

CSE 4317

need for a 90 day lifecycle
Need for a 90-Day Lifecycle
  • First used at DuPont
    • Scott Shultz
    • Documented by James Martin
  • “...Better to have a system of limited functionality working quickly than to wait two years for a comprehensive system.”
  • The application must be built so that it can be added to quickly

The two year wait...

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scope creep problem
Scope Creep Problem
  • Users/developers keep adding  design slow to converge
  • By placing a rigid limit on delivery, developers are less inclined to experiment
  • Excessive functionality in software and electronic products often goes beyond usefulness



CSE 4317

the timebox approach
The Timebox Approach
  • Implementation/construction phase practice
  • Implement essential features first, then other features as (if) time permits
    • The product “grows like an onion” with the essential features at the core
  • Prototype and evolve approach
  • Requires heavy end-user/sponsor involvement
  • Usually last 60-120 days

CSE 4317

the timebox
The Timebox



Timebox Development

Build &










Request for



Review &


Review Board

Need for large-

scale change or


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review board
Review Board
  • Signs off on system definition (priorities) prior to timebox
  • Monitors progress
  • Evaluates completed system
    • YES / NO decision on completion.
    • Decision made quickly on each stage
  • Includes:
    • executive owner
    • user representative(s)
    • QA professional

CSE 4317

timebox requirements
Timebox Requirements
  • Clearly prioritized list of features
    • What’s essential and what’s not
    • Minimum core feature set
  • Realistic schedule estimate
  • Right kind of project
    • Ability for extremely rapid turn-around on prototypes (Evolutionary Prototyping?)
  • Sufficient end user involvement
    • Quick feedback is essential (JAD?)

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variation parallel timeboxing
Variation: Parallel Timeboxing
  • Interfaces among subsystems determined, and held constant
  • Complex projects broken down into very small projects, which proceed in parallel


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dupont experience
Dupont Experience
  • Extraordinary productivity improvements with Timeboxing on certain projects
    • 80 function points per PM with Timeboxing vs. 15-25 without
    • No projects rejected with Timeboxing
    • Risk lowered/eliminated in many projects

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summary timeboxing


Quick feedback on basic functionality

Smaller teams reduce communication overhead

Problem tasks become visible

Can be used to save a doomed project


May be attempted as a last-ditch effort on unsuitable projects

Improperly applied (wrong project or wrong approach), may sacrifice quality instead of features

Summary: Timeboxing

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keys to success with timeboxing
Keys to Success with Timeboxing
  • Only use for projects that can be implemented within 60-120 days
  • Ensure that all stakeholders agree on minimum core feature set and prioritization of features
  • Be sure that team has bought in to aggressive Timebox schedule- and motivated properly to support it.
  • Focus on quality throughout the process
  • Cut feature if necessary, don’t extend the Timebox deadline

CSE 4317