Are you up for agile? Takeways from the 26 October 2016 X-change


Traditional 'waterfall projects' may offer transparency and clarity, but the call for flexibility, efficiency and reactiveness is making us consider the benefits of agile development, and the agile contracts that go with it.  At our X-change of 26 October 2016, we heard from companies and experts, who shared real-life experiences and lessons learned.

BELTUG members can see the presentations here:

Agile development and agile contracts are already an established practice at Eandis, and Kim Verlot, ICT buyer, shared the challenges and best practices she has experienced.  She explained the difference between waterfall projects and agile development as using a cannon ball versus a guided missile to hit targets. With agile development, the direction of this missile can be adapted as objectives become clearer.

At the start, the mixed team works on high-priority, well-defined topics only, which enables faster results and response to modifications.  The 'scrum and sprint' methodology brings about an iterative way of working. And throughout the entire process, trust is key - both between customer and supplier, and within the project team.

Kim’s lessons from multiple agile projects include:

  • Make the choice (agile or waterfall) right at the start, when you define a project
  • Define very well what 'agile' means with your internal customer. It should never be an excuse for poor preparation
  • Make sure your agreement on the results is in-line with your agreement on budget
  • Include the right amount of detail in your specifications and your RFP
  • When budgeting the project, make sure you are flexible and have a contingency plan
  • Include people from your internal customer in the project team
  • Include agile coaches from IT and procurement who can help colleagues with an agile contract and/or project.


The experts from Linklaters, Tanguy Van Overstraeten (Partner and Head of the Technology, Media & Telecommunications Practice Group) and Guillaume Couneson (Managing Associate), took us through the contractual and legal challenges.  "Even in agile (as flexible as it may seem), you need control", they told us - specifically on your timing and your budget.

Agile contracting remains a challenge even to lawyers, these experts admitted.  The continuous sense of uncertainty makes scope key in your agreement. One helpful tip: don't define the deliverables, define the goals. And you can reduce tension over cost by:

  • Negotiating a fixed or estimated price per sprint or subproject
  • Ensuring a fully transparent T&M
  • Creating an overall budget to meet.

One negative aspect of agile projects is that they can seem never-ending.  To avoid this, set well-defined objectives (the same for every sprint) and understand your internal customer's needs. Remember: good governance is key! Slide 17 of the Linklaters presentation provides more detail.

The Linklater’s experts agree with Kim that creating your team is critical:

  • Guard the stability of your key people in the team
  • Consider the impact of off-shore people
  • You may want to have an NDA signed by all parties.

Despite the risks, the agile approach remains very powerful. Changes are much easier to implement, helping to control costs and scope. And interim evaluations make problems apparent sooner, so they can be solved more quickly.

So, is agile right for you? Keep in mind that the success of an agile project requires more resources along the way, compared to a waterfall project where the resources come in when the project is finished. Thus, the decision should depend on the maturity of your organisation.










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