Agile – is it possible or not?

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Hi,

I’ve got a comment from my friend and fellow MVP Peter Kestenholz:

“Hi Nenad, great article. I believe that not all in sales are like this. Especially the last years things have changed a lot. On the other hand, selling a timebox/agile delivery would solve most of the issues you address. However, this requires procurement to stay out of the negotiations as they are always pushing for a locked scope.”

Well, yes Peter you are right. And wrong at the same time. First of all, I think that Agile approach in Software development is great. Just great. And if you compare Agile approach against Waterfall approach it is even greater. BUT! For agile approach several serious prerequisites must be fulfilled.

First and most important is TRUST! and in this Post I will cover only this prerequisite, because without this one, everything else doesn’t matter, and with it everything else is much much easier.

When you have external project (e.g. Project with external customer for which will pay for the Project), than Budget, Scope and Time are important. In the region where I live it is very hard (I didn’t use the impossible word), to get approval for this approach. Why is it so? Because customers want to know upfront three things:

  1. Wat are we going to get (e.g. each and every Deliverable)
  2. Where are we going to get them (e.g. Project finish date)
  3. How much is that going to cost us (e.g. precise Budget)

And to fulfill those three thins you must have strict PROJECT PLAN, and Agile is exact the opposite thing. Agile is all about role wave planning. It means that, because in IT Projects, especially Software development one, the scope is impossible  to define upfront, and then it is also impossible to define End Date and Budget. Scope is define for few Sprints (iterations), and based of results of each previous Sprint, next Sprint with desired functionalities is created. And therefore it is impossible to predict Project End date, and Budget.

On the other hand if you have restricted budget and time, in Agile approach Customer will get what is possible to get in limited timebox and Budget. but he is able to decide what are the best functionalities (or TOP funcionalities) which will suit for him in those limitation.

But, when you have customers like I do which want to know EVERYTHING upfront, than the only thing you can do is to have so called Hybrid approach. And this approach is:

1. The whole Scope is predefined
2. The Scope should be split in Iterations (Sprint)
3. After each Sprint – Sprint Review should be don to show to the Customer what is done
4. If customer wants to change the Scope – follow strictly defined Change request procedure,and change the Scope. In that case estimate cost of those changes and Time, and do the negotiations to your customer and change the Project plan

In most western Europe countries, and USA, Canada etc. Agile approach is accepted and adopted, and this “chemistry” is unnecessary. But, here in my region there is a long way to accomplish that.

All the Best,

Nenad

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About Nenad Trajkovski

Location: Zagreb, Croatia Occupation: Project Manager Interests: Project Management and MS PROJECT He was born in Zagreb, Croatia at 1963. After completing his college he started working on projects in different business areas (banking, manufacturing, automotive industry, distribution, oil companies, etc.) developing and implementing ERP systems into different companies. He has got a lot of experience working with people in different business processes and also possesses great knowledge in information technologies and financial services. Today he works as a business consultant, adn Project Manager in PERPETUUM MOBILE d.o.o. Zagreb. He is a regular lecturer for Project Management in MS Innovation Center in Varaždin, Logosoft Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina and SEAVUS GROUP in Skopje Macedonia. He was named the best lecturer of WINDAYS 2008 while his lecture was also voted as the best. In addition, he was in TOP 10 lecturers at the MS SINERGY 2009 and MS VISIA 2009, 2010. Shares first place as the best lecturer of KulenDays 2009 and 2010 and PMI Conference 2009 in Zagreb. He is also a regular lecturer in the MS Community. He is a Certified Accountant and a PMP (Project Manager Professional) and a PMI-RMP (Risk Manager Professional), MCP, MCT, and Microsoft Certified Technical Specialist - Microsoft Project 2010. From 01.01.2012 awarded with MVP (Microsoft Most Valuable Proffesional - Microsoft Project)!
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