At Moove It, fixed cost projects have been very much discussed. There are many opinions about it, but the reality is that in order to achieve a long-term project, you must first gain the client’s trust. We can make our capacity known to the client giving them peace of mind that once the agreed scope is finalized, it is their decision to continue working with the company or not.
How to manage a fixed cost project
Managing a project with these characteristics is very different from what it takes to coordinate time and materials. To begin with, the customer usually performs a product discovery that may or may not have been done by us. If it was, we have a better start because we know that we will have a visual prototype that will help us understand the scope of each requirement. On the other hand, we know that the work was estimated by someone from our team and with our standards. If the new project did not have a product discovery made by us or didn’t have one at all, it means that the project is riskier because the requirements will be much less clear when estimating the time it will take to deliver an MVP (Minimum Viable Product).
One of the first steps to take at the beginning of the project is to understand all the requirements of the new product, determine what will be included in the MVP, and write all the Epics, user stories, and tasks necessary to carry it out. The second step is to gather the entire development team for an initial Planning where the effort necessary to deliver the MVP will be estimated in story points, that is, all the tickets created in the previous step. The team must also determine how many tasks they think they will be able to complete in the first Sprint.
Based on this assumption, the Team Leader will put together a Roadmap where they will repeat that amount of assumed story points over time, to determine how many Sprints it will take to deliver the first version of the product. With this first draft of Roadmap, the TL can realize if it is possible to reach the deadline that the client expected, or if otherwise, it is necessary to reduce the scope or add more developers.
It is important to consider as part of the Roadmap, an initial period for Infrastructure/configurations, and a final period of at least two weeks for testing. After completing the first Sprint, it will be known whether or not the team reached the number of story points assumed in the initial planning, and the Roadmap must be adjusted accordingly.
During the development stage, it is extremely important to let the client know it should not allow add or change functionalities that were not included in the MVP. It is very common for the client to start with an idea of what they THINK they want, but along the way, they begin to realize that it was better to do it differently or that they need more things to achieve their goal. It is the Team Leader’s job to guide the client, advise it, suggest, but above all, if it is decided to change or add something, the MVP’s delivery projection must be re-estimated and this must be communicated in the most transparent way possible. It should be clear that to add X, you may have to remove B in order to deliver the MVP on the promised date. The Roadmap must be adjusted each time the scope is modified and must be shared with the client for greater transparency.
The demos are another important point in this type of project. It must be agreed with the client that every certain amount of time, the progress of the project will be presented by a developer of the team. After the Demos, it is important that the TL creates a Meeting Notes document, where the decisions, comments, or customer requests will be detailed.
Following these guidelines, the limited-cost project should be able to be delivered as it was estimated, or otherwise, the client should agree and understand the modifications regarding the initial plan. This is the path to make a happy client decide to continue working with our company under a long-term contract.
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