Hybrid: what to do when ...

Last post 12:32 am March 17, 2021
by Simon Mayer
4 replies
Author
Messages
05:34 am March 15, 2021

I am managing a waterfall construction type of project. We need the company IT team to do some software work for a building system, and we have a mandated date and contractual customer date. The thing is they are refusing to commit to the date because they say they work in 'Agile'.  I thought with Agile they should be able to commit to a date? I have even told them I will keep monitoring risks of not delivering the scope to that date in case I need to go back to the client - but they want nothing to do with being given a date. I was going to escalate up the chain but hate to do that if there is something I can do first. I've tried to engage them to understand more but they keep telling me they can't commit to a date. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks in advance!

06:06 pm March 15, 2021

We need the company IT team to do some software work for a building system, and we have a mandated date and contractual customer date

Is the scope of work flexible, and how big is the leap-of-faith being taken before value will be evidenced? How far away is that "mandated date" you refer to?

In Scrum we actually commit to dates all of the time, but we do so while limiting exposure and risk. A team therefore commits to deliver a valuable increment of usable quality at the end of each Sprint of no more than one calendar month. A clear goal for the Sprint will be achieved. Any contingency will be found in the renegotiation of scope rather than time.

02:57 am March 16, 2021

Thanks for taking time.

There might be flexibility and I can go back to the client if it looks like not everything will be done by that date - I just want to know I can confirm to client to having something up and running even bare bones. But the IT manager says sorry we can’t commit to having anything done by then. The date is 3 months away

I Might just tell client we will have something and get the IT people to commit to at least starting - and just monitor risk

my next step- get a psm so I know how to talk to them :-) 

08:20 am March 16, 2021

The PO should help the stakeholders to prioritise their business value, so that even if the agile work does not managed to include all listed features by the time the agile phase of the project is over, the stakeholders will still have a product containing their most required business value. 

12:32 am March 17, 2021

The thing is they are refusing to commit to the date because they say they work in 'Agile'.

I notice that you didn't mention anything about Scrum. So be aware that answers given here about Scrum might not be wholly relevant if this team have chosen an alternative agile way of working.

I Might just tell client we will have something and get the IT people to commit to at least starting - and just monitor risk

The values of the agile manifesto are:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan

But your approach doesn't sound collaborative, nor like it particularly respects the individuals who are telling you something different to what you intend to tell the customer.

Instead, have you tried asking the agile team when you will be able to collaboratively inspect progress in order to potentially change plans as more is learned?

One principle from the agile manifesto is:

 Working software is the primary measure of progress.

Perhaps this team can at least commit to taking time with you daily, weekly, or on another cadence, to reflect on what working software they have produced, and what they should focus on next.