Time and time again, we’ve stressed on how rapidly our world is advancing – especially when it comes to technology. It’s not surprising for something to take a completely different turn even within the short span of a mere 24 hours. As so much keeps transforming around us, does the way we do software development have to be unusually fixed and rigid?
In this day and age, it really doesn’t make sense to adopt fixed scope and pricing – and for some starkly obvious reasons. We are almost always caught by surprise when we notice a project being executed under a fixed scope and price structure, especially when versatile methodologies such as Agile exist.
If you’re a business owner and you’re reading this, it might seem less troublesome to simply decide on everything beforehand, sign off a contract on the same and wait for the final product to roll out. However, the harsh reality is that developing any digital platform (be they websites, apps or proprietary software) is never a linear process. Unexpected concerns are always bound to occur, and factoring such issues is impossible within a fixed scope structure.
For this reason, agencies usually overcharge their clients to mitigate any risk. It’s a little secret we’ll let you in on. True, a fixed price may save you the hassle of double-checking multiple invoices that are periodically sent to you if you are being charged by the hour – but is this still worthwhile in the wake of being overcharged?
That’s a key question you need to ask, on behalf of your company’s bottom line.
Price-related loopholes aside, how else do fixed projects negatively impact your final product and subsequently, your brand/business?
Agencies don’t only take advantage of the one-time, lump-sum pricing structures that fixed scope projects call for – they also provide the opportunity to conveniently cop out of building a product that’s effective, engaging and user-centric.
This happens because:
No matter how simple or complex your software development endeavor, what you initially proposed will always change. For example, a feature that was deemed to be essential may not seem that important after all, since another feature can accommodate the same function it was meant to do. Or, your user journey may be more confusing than expected, and this will now have to be built from scratch to avoid the risk of losing customer conversions.
While the first instinct for everyone working on this project should be to alert you of any mishaps – there is a fair chance that it may not happen. As fixed scope projects have zero flexibility, your software development team will simply follow the feature checklist that’s given to them – at the expense of building a sub-standard product.
In order to gather user feedback, users need to be involved regularly and early on during the project. Through working software versions (these can be test versions or a Minimum Viable Product), an Agile project management structure will enable development that’s aligned to the whims and fancies of your target audience.
With fixed projects, the final product is released after everything is complete. There is no flexibility to release working pieces of software midway – so how can users ever be involved in the first place? In turn, all this will lead to a product that is frustrating for your customers and eventually, frustrating for your company’s vision.
There’s no avoiding it – no matter how careful and predictive you have been, surprises always pop up. It doesn’t matter how intricate your project is, or what industry you operate in. It’s simply inevitable. This is why fixed projects completely defeat the purpose of building high-quality products, since changes are never welcome due to their uptight structure.
Unlike fixed projects, their Agile counterparts are versatile enough to not just welcome changes, but also incorporate them into the routine without compromising on quality, time, budget and other resources. While we cannot tell you what to do lest scope creep happens on a fixed project (for the reasons articulated above), we can tell you how you can manage the same in the wake of an Agile project.
While Agile is rightfully capable of tackling scope creep, it’s also the only viable alternative to fixed projects and their repercussions. Here, we’ll focus on the single most negative impact of fixed projects (scope creep, of course) and explain how you can control change – without change controlling you.
Before you get started…
This means discussing the scope with ALL members of your team, from the sides of both client and agency. Keep everyone involved and on the loop, should any changes occur. At the same time, encouraging openness for feedback/suggestions is also integral, as it gets everyone comfortable enough to talk about anything they feel can impact the scope of your project.
Once you get the ball rolling…
At this point, staying vigilant may call for some foresight – although it’s not the easiest thing to do. Should you feel that something could inundate your team’s existing workloads or strain any resources, it’s best to bring it to your project manager’s notice and nip it in the bud.
Speaking up is always better than letting things slide. As for taking action, your project manager is the expert on analysing what the repercussions could be, so he or she should be promptly letting you know whether there’s a need to be proactive in terms of making a change, or not.
Pilot versions of your software are what will contribute to frequent changes, but they are also the only foolproof way of learning whether your product is up to the expectations of your target audience. This way, you won’t just release a final product of excellent quality, you’ll get:
Your current backlog already has a number of items waiting to be incorporated. When a brand new change comes up, what do you do? How do you accommodate this such that it doesn’t negatively impact your deadline, resources or budget?
At this point, it’s all about deciding which of the prevailing tasks need to be replaced with the impending change. Some prioritizing and deprioritizing needs to be done and once again, your project manager should be able to advise you on this.
After all is said and done…
This is the beauty of any Agile project. Committed to quality deliverable, embracing change is something that can be done at any point of the project – even well after it has been concluded. Additionally, this is also what makes Agile project management a no-brainer for most software development projects today. Owing to a demand of creating and managing digital products that are fluid, real-time and easily mouldable, Agile enables designers and developers achieve varying demands of their clientele, to help them stay on top of constant change and fierce competition.
What with technological advancements taking the world by storm as rapidly as possible, building your digital products through fixed scopes and pricing will end up doing your business more harm than good. Why would that be? Here are a few reasons why, in a nutshell:
It’s the only way agencies can mitigate the risk of overworking themselves, since costs are affirmed and contracts are signed well before any work has begun. This also includes the research and strategy phases. Either of these phases can lead to discoveries that can significantly increase the workloads of the agency team allocated to your project, which makes them take the only option known of to cover costs pertaining to added labour – overcharging you, of course.
Because that’s what fixed projects are all about, aren’t they? Exactly as their name suggests, fixed projects aren’t supposed to be open to any spontaneous changes. Building a product that your users love while bringing you quantifiable business is an impossible feat, if you’re doing it based on a fixed project structure. This is because changes are inevitable – and something’s bound to come up in due course that needs to be addressed, or risk product failure.
Designers and developers know a thing or two about building a website, app or software. But they aren’t going to take the trouble to tell you when something needs to be looked into, because they’ll be confined to the bureaucracies of checking a predetermined set of features off a list. Likewise, you won’t have the privilege of voicing any concerns midway along the project too. While this can severely compromise product quality, it also fosters a lack of passion among your agency’s team members, towards your brand/business.
In order to be user-centric, you need to involve like-minded users early on in the project. This can only be done if working forms of the software are being released for the purpose of user testing and feedback – something fixed projects do not accommodate. The features that are established well ahead of the project are all based on the perceptions of those working on the same, which is neither sufficient nor completely accurate – as nobody can advise better on user psyche and behaviour, than users themselves.
If your final product lacks user-centricity, how can you expect it to delight your customers and lead to successful conversions? On the flipside, business objectives can also get side-tracked when you or anybody from your agency team realises something pertaining to the same, in due course of the project. But because features are already predetermined, there’s nothing that can be done.
At the end, Agile methodologies always win, when it comes to project management that’s streamlined, organized and receptive to constant change, especially considering today’s fast-moving digital landscape and fierce brand competition. With our users being bombarded with content, the only way to stand out is by giving them exactly what they need, as soon as they need it – and the versatility of Agile is the only way to achieve such a goal.
With Agile, you can do everything that a fixed project cannot, and more! Here are some key attributes:
So tell us…