AgileCville: How to sell a traditional client on an Agile project plan


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Presentation given to AgileCville on 7/16/2009, describing different strategies for convincing a traditional software development client to use an Agile project plan. Presented by Arin Sime, Senior Consultant to OpenSource Connections in Charlottesville Virginia.

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AgileCville: How to sell a traditional client on an Agile project plan

  1. 1. How to sell a traditional client on an Agile project plan Presented to AgileCville 7/16/2009 Arin Sime 434 996 5226
  2. 2. Outline • Why do we need to sell it? • Background/Bio • Defining a “traditional” environment • Survey on Selling Agile • Strategies for persuasion • The importance of continuing to sell the process throughout the project
  3. 3. The Project Plan they are afraid of....
  4. 4. “Some kind of structure (or architecture) is imperative because decentralization without structure is chaos.” - J.A. Zachman, 1987, “A framework for information systems architecture”
  5. 5. 2
  6. 6. More from Zachman... “The architect must convince the owner that the owner’s desires are understood well enough so that the owner will pay for the creative work to follow, and in effect, initiate the project.” We need to convince our clients that we understand their desires, and that Agile can substitute for most, if not all, of the up front documentation
  7. 7. Automating the Science To Enable the Art A little about me... Senior Consultant, OpenSource Connections Custom software development consulting for entrepreneurial, government, and military clients Graduate student (M.S. in Management of I.T.) at the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce Adjunct Instructor in a corporate software engineering program for Virginia Commonwealth University
  8. 8. Automating the Science To Enable the Art Some of our clients.... Platforms and Languages ASP .Net C C# Java Linux MySQL Oracle PHP Python Ruby Solaris SQL Server
  9. 9. Booz Allen Hamilton SAIC Capitol One International Monetary Fund US Air Force Surveyed fellow students AutoZone of MSMIT program and QinetiQ US Department of Justice other colleagues for Fannie Mae Freddie Mac examples of how they AOL IBM have sold Agile or been ManTech sold on Agile. Department of Veterans Affairs University of Virginia
  10. 10. “Agile seems to carry the connotation of 'c ode- like-hell' or just, 'work faster'.” “I am skeptical of any methods that that could be interpreted as ‘cutting corners’”
  11. 11. What exactly is a traditional environment? “Plan Driven methods are generally considered the traditional way to develop software. Based on concepts drawn from the mainline engineering fields, these methods approach development in a requirements/design/ build paradigm with standard, well- defined processes that organizations improve continuously.”
  12. 12. Strategies for Persuasion 1. Trial by Sprint 2. Case Studies of Success 3. Client/Customer Testimonials 4. Finding a champion in Key Stakeholders 5. Using metrics of success 6. Showing how Agile combats common IT project failures 7. Examples of industry/government leaders using Agile 8. Comparison to other methodologies 9. Listen to their needs and address them 10. Sneak it in 11. Compromise
  13. 13. “You need to show a success to get adoption.”
  14. 14. Strategy #1: Trial by Sprint “Trust me for two weeks. If you hate it, you can fire me.” Dwight Gibbs, CTO at Legg Mason Dwight Gibbs, Senior Vice President of Technology Capital Management, promising the for INPUT, formerly the CTO at Legg Mason Capital Director of Research that if he Management didn’t see development team improvements after only one sprint, then they would abandon Agile. “The sprint went well and we stayed with Scrum”
  15. 15. Strategy #2: Case Studies in Success • Present case studies of Agile success from your own client history • Example burndowns • Stories of benefits to teams • Highlight how the process caught risks early, and addressed them • Use graphics • Present industry examples of Agile success Links to Agile Case Studies can be found at:
  16. 16. Strategy #3: Client/Customer Testimonials “Biggest gain from Scrum was just keeping the project going.” “Complexity “certainly one of the dictated we most successful couldn’t know it all up front - we projects ever here” have to “Eliminated biases of prototype.” what developers can do by letting them self- “Got it done a lot better select” because team is well integrated. I didn’t have to plan who worked on what.”
  17. 17. Strategy #3: Client/Customer Testimonials “I don’t have to lord over people, no siddling over people with a coffee cup like in Office Space.”
  18. 18. “I highlighted the benefits to the Project Manager: higher productivity and less team- management stuff since the team will take care of lots of team-management and updating (burn charts) instead of PM's managing those details.”
  19. 19. Strategy #4: Finding a Champion in Key Stakeholders • Identify Stakeholder most in need • Address their needs with Agile • Enlist their support in adoption • Helps to already have a relationship
  20. 20. “The development team applies Agile. I think it is useful to obtain metrics and organize the work. From a business perspective, I have not seen the benefit.”
  21. 21. Strategy #5: Using Metrics of Success • Show metrics in proposals and throughout your project. • Show Burndowns over the course of the project • Use test coverage/test success as a metric • Velocity/Story points accomplished by your team • Defects from issue tracking tools • Shown here is an excerpt from a ThoughtWorks Project Manager's Status Report (as reported in Forrester Research Inc),7211,37380,00.html
  22. 22. “I created a presentation [showing] increased productivity, better risk management (through early detection), lower defect rates and enhanced team experience (which will translate to higher retention, less conflict management and more productive future projects).”
  23. 23. Strategy #6: Show how Agile combats common IT failures Top 10 Classic Mistakes 1. Poor estimation and scheduling Poor estimation and scheduling 2. Ineffective stakeholder management Ineffective stakeholder management Classic Mistakes that can 3. Insufficient management Insufficient riskrisk management be mitigated by Agile, as 4. Insufficient planning identified in article Classic Mistakes that can 5. Shortchanged quality assurance Shortchanged quality assurance also arguably be mitigated 6. Weak personnel and/or team Weak personnel and/or team issues issues by Agile and Scrum (my addition) 7. Insufficient project sponsorship Insufficient project sponsorship 8. Poor requirements determination Poor requirements determination 9. Inattention to politics 10. Lack of user involvement 10. Lack of user involvement Source: Prof. R. Ryan Nelson, University of Virginia. As published in MIS Quarterly Executive, “IT Project Management: Infamous Failures, Classic Mistakes, and Best Practices”, June 2007
  24. 24. “Clients, especially the military, are wary of catch phrases and sometimes unwilling to change their habits.”
  25. 25. Strategy #7: Examples of industry/government leaders using Agile • CIA IT Projects follow this spiral lifecycle: • Understand the mission • Establish the vision • Develop the architecture Jill Singer • Define plans Deputy Chief Information Officer Central Intelligence Agency • Resource plans former VP for Project • Execute plans Management, SAIC • Measure progress • But within that lifecycle, they use Scrum, primarily 4 week sprints
  26. 26. Strategy #7: Examples of industry/government leaders using Agile • Benefits the CIA has seen with Scrum: • Regular and tangible deliverables • Customer buy-in • Trying out prototypes • Users enjoy being able to add features Deputy Chief Information Officer Jill Singer and change priorities with each iteration Central Intelligence Agency • If a project is late, users don’t mind as former VP for Project Management, SAIC much • Challenges the CIA has run into: • “What is Version 1.0?”
  27. 27. “I gave an overview of the Scrum process and highlighted the ease of transition since iterative/incremental development has been in practice for a long time (in other forms such as a spiral approach)”
  28. 28. Strategy #8: Comparison to other methodologies From “Scrum in 5 Minutes”, by Softhouse. Available at:
  29. 29. “I am always skeptical of anything that promises it is the 'o nly' or the 'best' [methodology].”
  30. 30. Strategy #9: Listen to their needs and address them The Politics of Persuasion 1. Spend a lot of time listening. Ask people what challenges they are facing in their projects. 2. Make mental notes of each challenge. 3. Turn those challenges around and use them to segue into something you wanted to talk about anyways. (ie, how Agile will solve those problems) 4. Customers appreciate that you are offering positive solutions to their problems instead of just pushing your ideas without listening to them first.
  31. 31. “Agile practices usually find their way into the Soft ware Development Lifecycle even if they are not officially blessed.” “I make sure I utilize agile practices where ever I can - I just don't use the agile terminology.”
  32. 32. Strategy #10: Sneak it in • Implement it piece by piece, without saying what you are doing. • Start with iterations and demos, daily stand ups. PM’s love those. • Then move to developer driven practices like sprint planning, XP, CI. • Risky strategy, but can be used to overcome fear of the word Agile
  33. 33. “The methodology that has worked in my experience has been to incrementally introduce Agile ... Start using a limited set of the practices and gradually start bringing in more.”
  34. 34. Strategy #11: Compromise • Some clients will require checkboxes of all documentation they always ask everyone for. (I’m looking at you, Federal Government) • Try to shift when those documents are due. Focus only on those that provide value up front, leave the rest till the end.
  35. 35. Never stop selling Agile. When you’re in a project and it just saved you (ie, due to increased agility to changes), let the client know why. When things are going bad, point out how the increased visibility into the project at least caught the problems earlier. SELLING AGILE
  36. 36. Automating the Science To Enable the Art Questions? Follow up.... 434 996 5226