- Program Manager
"There are multiple variables to complete a successful agile project"
The challenge with an agile project is that even if you finish on time and within budget, you can close the project with an unhappy client. There are multiple variables to complete a successful agile project. The stakeholders need to be happy at the end of the project, the project should work as designed, and should be sustainable and adopted.
I've learned from experience that Agile projects can have a fixed budget and schedule but the scope can be flexible and change. These shifting objectives can cause a project to fail. The struggle was a traditionally Waterfall client didn't understand how to work within a Scrum framework. Clients who asked for endless new requirements led to the budget being consumed too quickly. I found myself in a cascade of difficult PM constraints.
I worked with the Product Manager to understand not only the client's needs but their priorities. This helped us manage the sprints and the backlog of requests from the client. We empowered and challenged the client to talk through their requirements and acceptance criteria. This helped them understand how their scope changed over time.
We helped the client stay engaged by having the Product manager or subject matter experts lead demos every two weeks of our progress. The technical team was encouraged to fail forward and to fail fast. You learn from the failures and ultimately make better decisions once you understand what does not work for the client. I monitored the progress toward the project's goals to ensure I could communicate the status and the project's complexities.
There were many lessons learned but what was most important was someone must monitor the plan and the temperament of the client. These were the major lessons:
- Monitoring and reporting on the burn on a weekly basis are necessary checkpoints to align the client's expectations.
- Minimize the risk of unclear requirements by timeboxing and allowing the team to use spikes to research.
- Fail forward and fail fast.
- During the project kick-off, educate the client on how your team runs Agile development.