Fixed Bid Projects and Estimation – Part 2

If managed not to slumber through Part 1 on estimation, then you find yourself waiting with bated breath for the dramatic climax of our tale of estimation and fixed bid projects.

For the sake of this discussion, a fixed bid project is a project that has a fixed price based on a defined timeline. Of the fixed bid projects that I’ve seen, the timeline often has a 10%-15% leeway on the timeline. The cost almost never does – so you can be late, but you’re going to swallow the cost. Also common, just to twist the knife a little bit more, is the penalty clause. If you miss the date, not only are you going to pay for the additional time and resources, but you’re also going to have to pay the customer for the privilege.

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Agile and the Agile Mindset

When dealing with companies moving towards Agile as a process, occasionally I will deliver a presentation offering an overview of Agile to set a context for the future conversation. The presentation itself is not an in depth treatise on Agile processes; in fact it’s pretty lightweight as these things go, but it does serve as a catalyst for conversations and offers a forum for questions, which is the real purpose.

As organisations begin to change their processes, there is a natural tendency for people to resist that change because change takes us outside of our comfort zone. Resistance then is often cry for ‘help’ or maybe a cry for ‘bring me with you’. It’s easy to get a blinkered view on Agile, to assume that not only does everyone recognise the benefits, but also to assume that everyone knows what exactly Agile is.

The presentation, which I’ll post somewhere soon to let you see what I’m talking about, offers a whistle-stop tour of the Agile Manifesto to set the stage followed by a review of the shopping list of different Agile / Lean / XP processes / methodologies¬† / approaches (I’m going to call them systems from now on) that all refer back to that manifesto. Just a note that currently there’s 15 systems listed in the presentation, and that’s trimmed back.

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Why are we doing this?

I spend a lot of time with organizations of various sizes helping them transition from their current state to their desired future state.

In practice this offers a wide variety of challenges from one organisation to another. Some have great developers but poor processes, others have strong processes, but lack support systems, some are just struggling to understand what their goals are. Inevitably there is some level of confusion, frustration and a sense of someone else ‘just not getting it’.

I’ve increasingly taken on a mission with all of these organisations, a personal mission that I believe goes to the very heart of the malaise that I see in the IT industry over and over again.

That mission is to help everyone remember that once upon a time, not so long ago, this used to be fun.

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