I ran across an article about why users hate Agile development, and it got me thinking about what our potential clients can do to feel like they’re getting the most from their custom software project. As the article mentions, Agile custom software development can be a very ambiguous process for users, because neither the cost or the time frame for completion is fixed.
Particularly when it comes to complex projects, it can be hard to judge exactly what is involved as we are starting out. If you are engaging with a new vendor,you may not trust that the final product will be what you want. As they highlight in the article, “The less trust a customer has with you, the more they want to have a plan up front and hold you to that plan.” So as trust grows, what can you do to protect yourself?
For starters, every Agile project runs in two week “sprints,” and as the client, you decide what the priority is for each one. For the first few, we will probably spend our time developing the architecture of your application, so you can see the broad lines of what it will look like. Since you have the option to end the engagement at any time, these first few weeks are a good time to test whether the accountability you expect is there.
Over time, both you and your development team will get a better idea of the business problem that is being solved, and how long it will take to get there. According to one contributor to the article, “although the user won’t get a hard date for a specific deliverable, the developer will provide ongoing updates about what is to come, and those updates become more accurate as the project goes on.”
Another option to speed up time to completion is by starting with an off the shelf product that meets part, if not all of your business needs. This may be a product like SharePoint, or some other well known business product that will give you basic functionality from the beginning. Check in again for part two, covering how your involvement makes all the difference for great custom software.
For more on how Agile can help your company use software to meet business goals, read more about user stories. Or, read up on why Agile techniques should matter to your company’s upper management…