Step Five: Let the Right Path Emerge
Processes, like everything else, have a lifecycle. As business changes and new needs arise, commonly followed procedures can fall by the wayside while new ones are adopted. Ten years ago, Sarbanes-Oxley did not exist, and now it does. One thing is for certain: Change is constant. So, rather than getting stuck within the boundaries of current ineffective processes, it is helpful to focus instead on helping those processes evolve in a way that better serves the business.
This is truly a process of evolution. Don’t try to reinvent every project management process in your company before you start your agile transformation. Begin your first agile project using as many of the same artifacts and procedures you did in the old waterfall approach. Let conflicts arise—as they surely will—and gradually make changes. Most organizations that have audit requirements have something often called an “exception form.” The purpose of this form is to describe a variance from the defined project management procedure. Early in an agile transformation, make liberal use of this form to describe changes you are making to the process supporting an agile approach. When you find, for example, you have written five exception forms for five projects to explain that the BRD is now a living document and will be signed at the end of the project, it is probably time to change the root process itself. Working with an agile coach or someone who has experience writing agile contracts will help guide you when you’re new to the process.
Beyond simply meeting audit requirements, moving to an agile approach also requires taking a hard look at what you are trying to accomplish with your contracts. The Agile Manifesto is a document created by those many consider to be the founders of the agile movement. In it they describe “agile values,” in which one of the core tenets is valuing customer collaboration over contract negotiation. Truly, agreements can be mutually beneficial, and the best ones usually are. Too often, the contract creation process is viewed as a chess game with each side trying to exploit the other’s weaknesses to gain advantage. But the truth is both parties have a vested interest in the other’s success. It is to a consulting organization’s benefit to leave a client delighted with its new product and eager to do business again. It is also to the client’s advantage to pay the consultant a fair price while building a positive working relationship so that the consultant can maintain his livelihood and be available to work in the future. Both of these goals can be met while still creating contracts that support the audit processes. The first step to creating effective agile contracts is seeing the working relationship between all parties involved in the contract process for what it is—a partnership.
About the Author
Having served as a product owner, ScrumMaster and team member, Angela Druckman has seen first hand how agile practices and Scrum in particular can lead organizations to project success. As one of CollabNet’s Certified Scrum Trainers and a member of its ScrumCORE team, she helps organizations harness the Scrum framework’s potential, conducting dozens of public training courses each year as well as providing on-site, private coaching.