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PM in Agile

Failure of Success

I’m reading an e-mail from a client and I can’t believe my own eyes. He is asking me to present him a forecast for another service package for a reduced team? How come? I’ve just received compliments and positive feedback on professionalism, pace of work and our involvement after the end of a-few-month release. The project is secure in terms of development prospects for the next long months, and in the backlog,  there is a number of functionalities that are to be delivered. What has gone wrong?

Ecosystem

No project can function in the void. Our project gathers the input from a platform developed in parallel with the team on the client’s side. Our data, in turn, ‘’feeds’’ the system developed by another subcontractor. Therefore, from the perspective of the end client, all the elements are complementary. The Project Manager on the client’s side is responsible for delivering business value as a whole.

We’ve delivered – we’ve made it

Over the last 15 months or so, thanks to our hard work, we have won the client’s trust. The predictability of delivery is our strong suit. The difference between the original estimates and the work performed does not exceed 5%. Moreover, we have shown a great level of flexibility in terms of requirements and priorities. One of the key factors that facilitates our work is good communication of the client’s needs, which allows to present the team with a cause-effect chain, which affects dynamically changing environment. Being aware of the next milestones made it easier for us support the client with our own ideas and to assist them in decision-making process. Thanks to that, we were closer to achieving our common goal.

The initial assumptions are known, we’ve prepared a delivery forecast for the next release and we get down to work. Unfortunately, stress was inevitable. We came across challenges in specialised areas and topics, which made us (in order to save time) use our knowledge of SME from out-of-project organisational resources. We struggled with unexpected necessity of introducing a new team member, which resulted in extra work for the most experienced team members. Nevertheless, perfect work of our leaders allowed us to provide support in order to get to know the application – ranging from business aspects to technical details. However, it does not change the fact that such activities are costly – these are hours of our work dedicated to the necessity of adjusting to the pace of our project development very quickly. Despite all the adversities, the scope of work was delivered in due time and within the expected budget.

crumpled paper next to the bin

Success has a bitter taste

As the work progresses, the team’s velocity, experience and expertise increase. We start to deliver more value in the comparable period of time. However, the increase in work is not proportionate to the increase in systems that we cooperate with. There seems to be a problem with specifying the requirements in given PBIs (Product Backlog Item). The risk of the necessity of reworks rising exponentially.  From the client’s perspective, it seems more profitable, in terms of both time and costs, that we adjust to the project already cooperating with us. It means that we need to decrease our velocity of delivery. One of the ways to achieve so is to reduce the team, which will make it easier to catch up with us and to reduce the PO (Product Owner) workload. Moreover, it will also minimalise potential costs of modifying the existing product. Consequently, a decision was taken to reduce the team.

Summary

The bigger the perspective, the smaller the surprise. Being aware of the environment at every level is one of the key aspects of project management. It’s worth looking at a project from the client’s perspective as well as a Tribe Master’s or even C-level point of view. They key is to build proper relations and to maintain effective communication. What might seem negative to our team at a first glance, may actually bring benefits when taking the company’s perspective. Despite the decision to reduce our team, our position as a subcontractor is much stronger than it used to be a few months ago. It results from the client being more aware of our team value. Domain knowledge and predictability of our work is our biggest advantage, thanks to which the client analyses our further cooperation in other projects as well. As a result, we are able to establish Objectivity’s strong position as a reliable and recognised provider. The talks are pending.

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