Using Contract Development Resources in An Agile Environment

Recently I've had the opportunity to work with a company and an independent software developer who use agile methods in their contract software development engagements. I was curious about how they would present a fixed-price bid or statement of work when their development process would not require a full set of detailed functional requirements as a basis for the proposal.

Both the company and the independent developer stress the benefits of agile, and specifically Scrum, to deliver value and complete more work faster. The company I've been working with, SolutionStream, says on it's website (www.solutionstream.com):

We believe:
You CAN trust consultants to work for you as if they were your own employees.
Your software can be delivered in small, visible chunks.
You can save money and get more features by using our deeply experienced team.
You can easily maintain the software through our excellent design and proven transition process.
Your needs can change during the project and we embrace change through Agile processes.

The independent contractor, Fred Smullin, proposes dividing the project into sprints and using retrospectives after each sprint to assess the remaining work and revise time and cost estimates accordingly.

These agile practitioners allow the contractor and client to continuously assess project status and make adjustments without feeling locked into a long term commitment that "just has to work." They provide one of the best approaches I've seen to ensure that a contract relationship is a positive, rewarding, value-added experience for both the client and contractor.

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