Pitfalls of Agile that Project Managers need to look out in Fixed Cost Projects

When using Agile for fixed cost project there are few things that Project Managers need to look out for. In Agile, as we all know, the software is delivered incrementally and at the end of each iteration there is working software ready to go production. This gives a crystal clear view of the software development to stake holders (the chickens). But in fixed Cost projects there are few things that Project Managers need to look into and address them early as possible.

Customer understanding of the agile process
We need to give a clear picture of agile process to the users and explain their part of the process and how important it is for them to participate. For example provide constant feedback at the end of each iteration to eliminate waste and to ensure the team will deliver the required system. Therefore the Project managers need to ensure that there will be customer representatives allocated to review the iterations and provide feedback. This feedback is highly important and essential for the success of the next iteration and the next, and ultimately the success of the project. You have to remember that as a project manager that agile method can only be successful with constant customer feedback.
So this has to be explained to the end users and need to get their participation.

Scope Change
With the constant feedback coming from the end user, there will be high potential of scope change. Project managers need to be highly alert on this type of situations to control it. This doesn’t mean that you have to reject all the changes, but you need have a control over the introduction of change to the ongoing project and weigh them against the time and budget constraints. If the customer insists changes to the scope then they have to be explained the consequences in terms of cost, time and quality. So there should be some change management mechanism set up at the beginning to control it.

Realistic iteration milestones
Development team (Pigs) must be consulted to come up with functionality that can be delivered to the end user by the end of each iteration. Whatever they deliver at the end of each iteration must be usable. So that as a project manager, you can plan for successful release after 3 to 4 iterations. By this way at early stages the end user can actively involve in the UAT. The big advantage of this is to eliminate waste before the closing stages of the project.

Customer communication
Last but not least that you need to keep constant communication with the end users. You can use project status reports also you can organize show and tell sessions will the participation of all the stake holders’ occasionally (I call this the “Big show” before the main releases).

Remember all of these factors are highly important for the success of the project and if you can plan for these I bet you can smoothly run the project and make the end user happy (as a project manager this should be your ultimate goal).


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