Agile Contracting

Last week I had time to attend a web conference about how to get contracts implementing your projects under agile rules. I would like to remember some of the points the speaker stressed.

Sell:

  • Visibility, the customer is the person who gets the backlog and decide the next package of features to be developed.
  • Continuous delivery, that works on immediate value for the customer.
  • Risk reduction in terms of cost of change orders, cost of project termination, cost of vendor switch.

Estimation:

  • To perform estimations of the functionalities they work on the real velocity of development, doing a continuous measures on them.
  • Development speed is also measured to see if this speed is continuous or have accelerations or decelerations (considered bad).
  • They have some KPIs used as references: line of hope, line of desperation…
  • Some other graphics with monthly graphics where presented. They draw lines of reference with: mean (last 8), mean (-3 worst)…

This part in the management of the speed was the most interesting for me.

A colleague told me they are working using agile framework under software life-cycle, specifically they are working on scrum, but the development of the project is under waterfall:

“…adopting the better characteristics of each methodology and being properly balanced we are delivering quickly under our corporate methodology…”

What top-managers expects from PMs

In the Project Management environment, the PMs, team members and upper managers each have expectations of what their relationship should be with other parties.

Today I would like to list what top-managers expects from PMs. It’s a generic list, not in 100% of times is right:

  • Assume total accountability for the success or failure to provide results.
  • Provide effective reports and information.
  • Provide minimum organizational disruption during the execution of a project.
  • Present recommendations, not just alternatives.
  • Have the capacity to handle most interpersonal problems.
  • Demonstrate a self-starting capacity (be pro-active).
  • Demonstrate growth with each assignment.
  • A good PM is a good decision maker under the corporate ethic.

Remember these lines to junior project managers or project leaders it’s a very healthy exercise that helps them to clarify the position they are getting. I also like to remember them to myself in order to reinforce the messages I have to give.

Education and awareness on these practices of people working on projects is mandatory. Don’t hide the paramount.

Ensure delegation is done properly.

Working with new people means you have to make a time investment into the professional relationship you have with them.

I always want to have the opportunity of talking with new people before they assign me responsibilities or vice versa. Have time to talk with them without pressure, some weeks (if I have engaged the people during the preparation of a project). I have the need of understanding what this person really wants from me or if I have good understanding with the other.

Sometimes I recognize I’m a pain in the ass. I try to clarify it openly with the other person in order to clarify that I’m only trying to understand the criteria at the time of delegating something.

I’m making reference to complex delegations, not just a task. You are going to make decisions based on your criteria, the director criteria, the company ethics…

I remember my dad starting the car in winter and letting it some seconds to ensure that everything was right. It becomes me exasperated: “… it’s good to hear the sound of the car some seconds…”

Have right and good communication with people is crucial when you are delegating something is necessary to get the right feedback about they have got it. Let some seconds to think and see if the engine is working properly …

  • do you need I clarify something?
  • get the time you need to get it,
  • think about it and tomorrow we can continue talking about it.

These seconds usually saves time & money. I have seen people running as 100 m runner when they are delegating responsibilities.

You can run doing a report, writing documents, sending some mails… but never run when you are giving some responsibility to somebody.

The speed should be slower when we talk about teams.

Feedback Questionaire

I’m taking some holidays in Vietnam, doing a lot of kilometers during the few days I have.

This country save a lot of traditions of their ancestors and some other things are more evolutioned than you can expect.

One of the days we did a day trip to a place named “Perfume Pagoda”, you can look for some photos in the Internet, they are great.

When we were coming back to Hanoi, the guide gave out some papers to the people in the mini-bus. Almost everybody was from Germany, some others from Australia and us from Spain.

The people was surprised when they read the paper, it was a feedback form to measure the client satisfaction of the service we hired.

  • How is the driver,
  • How is the level of english of the guide,
  • How is the knowledge of the guide,
  • How is the status of the car

It’s a pleasure to see that here there is already these kind of quality tools in some of the services provided to the tourists. Nevertheless the tourism is one of the most important industries in this country.

With respect the rest of the trip, I’m having a very good experience, the people is so friendly.