Gathering Information - Time and Materials

Time and Materials

This is a continuation from our Fixed Bid post.

It could be argued that time and materials is the best approach for both sides. If the agency or developers know what they are doing, it should be easy to come up with a budget and time line that could be met within that budget. You can break down the hours into buckets that allow for shifting of the time to keep within budget. Agile will allow the agency to demonstrate progress and ensure that the client is kept in touch with their project. Why doesn’t everyone just start with Time and Materials? I think in reality most developer/agencies are doing this under the guise of fixed bid. The following takes place: Client engages with agency. Agency agrees on the scope of the project. Client expects the scope and cost to remain the same. The scope changes, the agency doesn’t say anything. Finally, the agency says that they need more money for “X” feature and are now months into the project.

The best approach is to define stories within the Epic(s) and assign some effort to what it will take to complete the story. If the story is well written the details of the feature are inherent because of the outcome of the story. Let’s go over an example.

Story: I would like to get 2 burritos and 2 chilitos from Taco Bell. Looking at this as a developer I want to discover some things. I need to know where the Taco Bell is. I need to know how I am going to get to Taco Bell. I need to know if I will have enough money to pay for the Taco Bell and finally I need to if it will be open when I go there. There are of course a 100 different things that could be involved but these cover the main points and the reason we use a story is so many of the obvious things don’t have to be detailed.

Our discovery finds the following: I will use my Scooter to get there. I have $10 which will be more than enough money to pay for it. Taco Bell is open until 2am so I will leave early enough to get there. The scenario can run deeper but you get the point. We don’t have to define what is in a chilito and what is a scooter. These things are assumed in the project.

The key to a successful project using the time and materials model is good reporting and a clear budget. The advantage is we have a fluid environment to work in where things can get done. The con’s are that it will be easy for anyone to derail the process.

The information gathering is partially done upfront and partially done during the project. (The more upfront the better!)

For next time I will write about "Sharing with a team"

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