Agile Software Project Delivery in a Waterfall World – Part 3

Agile Software Project Delivery in a Waterfall World – Part 3: Managing Clients

Let’s say for a moment that you’ve tackled the software development project scheduling issues and the project is moving forward at a brisk pace. In comes the client’s expectations and all of sudden, they no longer align with your project’s milestone realities. You’ve done all the right things in terms of chunking out tasks, setting minor release dates and getting resources in place to hit the dates that management
has imposed, but the paying customer now needs you to deliver on a different schedule. You can choose to either:

  1. a) Persuade the client to accept the schedule that you currently have or
  2. b) Apply a mini-agile plan to release features and functionality to the customer based on when it is feasible in your overall schedule or
  3. c) Panic

In most cases you will need to pursue the b) course of action to preserve your sanity. Your clients tend to react negatively to pushing their dates back, but instead react positively to receiving functionality sooner.   To achieve b), you will need to work closely with the development team and identify what features can be finished to the point of acceptance where you can release them early to your client. Often times there will need to be some re-shuffling of priorities within the development plan so that features can be isolated and finished off ahead of the complete body of work. Once you have identified those features, build in the appropriate amount of testing time (but not too much) to ensure that these features are usable, even though they may not be 100% complete.

Frequent communication to the client is better than less when employing a mini-agile plan to pre-release functionality to them.   Explain what is expected to work and be delivered on what time-table and encourage them to understand that you are delivering a partially finished product that is still in the QA cycle.   Once the client starts seeing their application/product taking shape, they will see something tangible and most likely will be more comfortable with the project as a whole.   If the client comes back to you with its own idea of prioritization of feature release schedule, then work with them and plan for what is possible and what is not. Close collaboration is the key to winning the client over and delivering a product that satisfies both of your needs.

For more information regarding this or other software projects, please contact us with your inquiry.


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