Why IT Contracts should address Questions of Agility


What exactly is Agility in Software Development?

One definition is: To get a nice (software) solution is more important than to sit on a no longer useful contract.

There is no need to make Agile Software Development a complicated concept: We only have to realize which kind of agility will help in modern IT projects.

But never forget: There is one important consequence you and your client should be aware of: Agile and Fixed Price are like Fire and Waterif not tamed they simply annihilate each other (and do so in many unexpected ways).

The case De Beers vs Atos Origin is ample proof of this fact.

To avoid similar desasters, there is only one possible solution:

Before starting a software development project, suppliers and customers, in their contract, should agree not only on the scope of work and a project plan — the basis for a possible fixed price — but also on how to deal with any changes that might become necessary. This is the part specifying a specific degree of agility the project partners promise, or should promise, each other.

The accusations brought forward in the lawsuit De Beers vs Atos Origin clearly show that agility could become necessary on both sides (not only on supplier’s side).

To summerize:

  • Agility is nothing more than to acknowledge that changes to the contract itself may become unavoidable.
     
  • The contract should forsee this possibility.
     
  • Contracts not addressing this issue can become a problem: The supplier may even end up being accused of fraudulent misrepresentation (as EDS was as a supplier of BSkyB).

 
To learn more you may want to read:

 

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