This week I had the pleasure of seeing an actual, honest-to-goodness Gantt chart clutched in our boss’s emphatically gesticulating hand. I actually did a double take to verify what I was seeing and shook my head in disbelief. OK, so we’ve quite a way to go before we’ll be able to call ourselves agile. But, at least, everyone knew that the delivery dates and “milestones” printed on that paper were all rough estimates at best. A starting point then…
Agile Successes in Lean Times
The time schedule was already quite tight for the next project, and the estimates we got from the offshore team were even worse than we expected. How were we going to deliver this thing “on time and within budget”? I suggested that instead of worrying about getting the contract just right, that we go for the most important feature sets first and get these released and running for the customer to see immediately. Instead of talking about what we’d deliver in Q2, we were suddenly able to talk about what the customer could see next month!
This was really a win-win situation, because not only did the customer get an early look at the project but we could control expectations on a month-to-month (and, once things really get rolling, a week-to-week) basis. Now we had a chance to really save some money by delivering the most important features early and possibly getting an early sign-off way before the initial project deadline!
Next year will be make or break for a lot of folks, and I think the smart money is on agile methodologies to really shine. Shorter time tables, more deliverables and features and fewer specifications and “pork” are how fiscally responsible companies will deliver value to their customers and returns to their investors. So, while I’m certainly concerned about the coming recession, I’m equally excited by the opportunity for lean principles and “Getting Real” getting a lasting foothold in more businesses. That’s really a win-win for everyone.