Our clients desire varying degrees of involvement in their projects. There are our ‘Fire and Forget’ clients who want early involvement and frequent demos, but who can easily express their complete vision at the outset of a project.
Then there are other types of clients – clients who may only really understand 50% of what they need to build initially, clients whose vision is still developing but who want to get started, and clients who need a full-scale business pivot in the midst of their project.
For all those types, agile is a great answer to running a project for them. Of course there are trade-offs – understanding only 50% of your features or changing mid-stream will, of course, require re-estimation and re-calibration of the project along the way.
For those who see the advantage, be it time to market or nimbleness of execution, they fit nicely into Amadeus Consulting’s Designed Agile process. How then, to map them into those crucial elements of agile, such as sprint planning? We know we need to ensure that they feel connected to those decisions that are being made, and to maximize the transparency to development processes.
Amadeus Consulting’s designed agile prescribes several important ways to do this:
- Sprint 0 – a design sprint prior to the start of development
- Client Driven Sprint Planning
- Frequent Project Calibration
Sprint 0 is an upfront sprint with heavy client involvement in both design and functional decision making. This ensures that we get off on the right foot.
Client driven sprint planning allows us to work directly with the client to set a sprint’s priorities, but still have developers estimate in a team-focused, off-stage environment.
The steps are:
- Client Facing – Discuss Client Priorities and Project Technical Needs
- From this meeting a proto-backlog is developed.
- Internal Sprint Planning– Development Team meets to review and estimate proto-backlog.
- Understanding of reach and stretch goals for the sprint are developed.
- Client Facing – Sprint Velocity Discussion
- Communicate goals to client and set appropriate expectations, based on the internal sprint planning.
Lastly, the client needs to understand if any sprint items are going to impact budget or timeline of the project. This calibration occurs as a natural result of steps 1, 2, and 3 above. During the sprint priority-setting and design meetings, we always refer to the original estimate for the project to ensure that we are staying on track or, if we are diverging from that, that we are diverging in important and client-directed ways.
After that is done, we circle back to the client and communicate any impacts and make decisions together about how to proceed.
The touch points are different in agile development and it requires greater time involvement from the client to attend necessary design and priority-setting meetings throughout the life of the project, but for clients who need that or see a particular value in doing so, it can make the difference between success and failure.