I’ve been reading more and more about managing large projects with Agile. I am wondering how best to optimize the merger of the classic IT yearly budget cycle for large scale projects with the Agile principles and agile project delivery. There has to be a way to balance the constraints of an upfront budget process with the benefits of agile-ly deployed business prioritized deliverables. Or in other words, how does one keep the dollars and cents focused people happy and the business project sponsors enjoying the benefits of Agile delivery?
The classic IT yearly budget cycle I’m referring to is one of wild guesses at capital such as servers or software licenses, maintenance, expense and internal plus external resource costs to complete projects that involve IT in the next yearly financial calendar. Projects maybe completely IT driven with IT as the end customer or projects maybe requested by the business to deliver business value that need IT support in delivering that value. In either case, the classic budgeting versus agility challenges is the same. Take the typical project mixing IT and business changes:
New Project Request Form:
Project: A456 Enable Call Center Order Confirmation
Scope: Upgrade the FlimFlam call center system from 5.0 to 6.0 to enable the customer communication widget and change the call center workflow to use the widget and not carrier pigeon to confirm orders with customers.
- How much does the upgrade cost? (easy, ask software vendor)
- How many consulting hours and dollars are needed to support upgrade? (medium, ask software vendor’s professional services for a typical customer upgrade number, then add fudge factors to map over to your company)
- How many hours from your internal shared IT resources to support the entire effort? (hard, don’t have the time to go through the project requirements gathering and design phase or collect all stories, get story points, etc., etc., so take a wild guess based on past projects or other similar work, add fudge factors, add more fudge factors, then double it … you get the idea)
Project Budget Submission Criteria:
? = Capital
? = Maintenance
? = Expense
? = Internal Resource Hours
? = External Resources Hours
? = External Resources Hourly Rate
? = Total External Labor Costs
The budget process demands a number to be provided for each question mark. You know that certain magic number thresholds, if cross, will doom your project or almost as bad, push it into a category that requires a whole new level of business case and ROI sizing effort. This classic IT project budgeting process doesn’t seem to support the majority of the Agile project delivery process.
Does anyone have any experience or references to best practices in this area of marring legacy budgeting and agility?