Therefore, when you’re kicking off a new agile project, your first order of business should be to try to assess your client’s knowledge of agile. Your clients need to understand the approach that developers and UX designers on your team are taking and feel included in the process. They might also have a strict timeline in mind for building a product.
The Project Triangle: Scope, Time, and Money
There is a tight relationship between the speed of production, a project’s scope, and its cost. People often describe these factors as the project triangle—summarizing this with the classic saying “Good, fast, or cheap—pick any two.” If you change any of these three variables, the others also need to budge. For example, on many software projects, time and cost are fixed, which means you must limit the scope.
However, once UX designers ideate, then prototype and test their ideas with users, a client or product manager often thinks of some possible new features that would increase the scope of the project. So the team and the client need to consider extending the timeline, increasing the budget, or cutting another feature to reduce the project’s scope to its original size. But this is easier said than done. Having an unclear project scope is one of the biggest roadblocks to using agile development.
4 Best Practices for Embracing Agile and Making Your Clients Happy
Communicating such issues effectively to your client in the midst of a project is challenging, so it’s useful to have some best practices to fall back on when you encounter the inevitable bumps in the road. Here are a few agile best practices to keep in mind that can help you keep communications with your clients on track.
1. Maintain an up-to-date product roadmap.
A product roadmap is critical to determining the scope of a project and the specifics of the project triangle. Most development organizations know that getting the roadmap right from the outset is well worth the significant time and expenditure that planning takes. The planning process must include all stakeholders and should not be rushed.
But just as important to maintaining a happy client in an agile-development context is ensuring that the roadmap stays current. Keeping the roadmap up-to-date lets you check on the team’s current velocity and progress toward deadlines and determine whether any factor of the project triangle has ballooned. If you find that a few extra features have crept into your roadmap, make sure the project still on schedule.
At such junctures, the roadmap can help facilitate discussions using a more agile approach, while still keeping in mind the timeline and budget. Of course, roadmaps can change—or even be seriously overhauled or tossed out entirely in favor of a new one—but you must consider changes in a conscious, careful way and with full transparency to your client. No one wants to be surprised by changes to the development roadmap.