Wednesday, September 21, 2005

I won't lie, I won't lie, I won't lie, I won't lie, I won't lie, I won't lie

One of the problems with Agile is the fact that :

Everyone likes a fixed-price, fixed-scope contract.

Unfortunately, as pointed out by anyone worth their salt in our field:

THIS IS NOT POSSIBLE on any project of significant size.

(Martin Fowler, Eric Evans, Kent Beck, Ron Jeffries, Mary and Tom Poppendieck etc...). You can try and wrap the package up anyway you like...list of features, fixed number of stories, written specifications. It will defy all attempts to put scope and features in the same box. Our field has not matured enough yet. It will probably be at least a hundred years, yet.

The huge downfall of Agile, is that it constantly tells the user, "no, we're not on the fixed priced/fixed scope schedule, we're behind". Our profession is full of people willing to say I can do X for Y dollars. Generally, they believe they are telling the truth. They aren't. On some projects the customer doesn't find out until the end. Predicting a software project scope and schedule is like trying to know the speed and location of an electron: physicists have proved it impossible.

I never want to lie to my customer. I want my customer as informed as I am. I tell them each and every month where I am. If they're disappointed, that is unfortunate, but at least they have the truth. The decisions they have to make EVERY ITERATION about scope and time ARE HARD. If you don't want to make those decisions, leave it to me and I'll make the best ones I can.

I promise you a couple of things people who say we can do it on schedule and on budget won't: I'll show you every iteration how much we got working and I won't lie to you, ever - even when it's painful.


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