Agile contracts

Agile contracts. Those two phrases collectively within the title appear extremely incongruent with Agile, in spite of everything, the Agile Manifesto’s third worth is:

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

But this doesn’t imply that you just shouldn’t have a contract with a associate or vendor; it simply implies that the interactions, collaboration and outcomes that you just make collectively needs to be your major focus. 

So what does an Agile contracts actually appear to be? What issues do you have to convey into your Agile contract? Whether or not it’s an end result primarily based contract or time and supplies, the next are additions it’s best to think about when working with a ship associate to supply not simply software program, however actual outcomes for purchasers.

Team Setup

  • Be clear on how far via a technical stack a workforce needs to be setup to incorporate – eg Partner groups have to be setup to ship buyer worth work via the complete technical stack. In advanced, scaled environments Partner groups are inclined to not be optimised for diminished dependencies. 
  • Be clear on which roles you’ll present into the workforce equivalent to Product Owners, Experience Designers, and Service Designers
  • How massive needs to be workforce be? Good workforce dimension is 7 +/- 2, however many Agilists assume even that is too massive.
  • Do you might want to be express round what roles you don’t need a Partner so as to add? For instance, you could not need Test Managers or different management roles past Scrum Masters.
  • How a lot ought to a Partner be allowed to maneuver individuals between groups or taken off the account? Agile groups work as a result of groups are persistent and study over time tips on how to successfully work collectively. Naturally there shall be exceptions equivalent to the place there are character clashes or functionality points however attempt to have secure groups.

Skills and capabilities

  • What is the strategy to coping with gaps in laborious to search out specialist capabilities – is it the accountability of the Partner to deal with this or will your organisation present an answer?
  • What expertise and capabilities (tender or in programming languages) are you anticipating of your Partner. Consider the place Agile capabilities equivalent to TDD, pair programming, steady integration and deployment and so on. slot in to those expectations.
  • What expertise and capabilities are you guaranteeing to the Partner – for instance, will you make sure that Product Owners are succesful in defining Acceptance Criteria with a purpose to help BDD?


  • Who shall be performing teaching – the Partner or your organisation? What is the ratio of coach to the variety of groups that you’re anticipating a coach to help?
  • If the Partner is offering coaches how do you guarantee high quality – do you reserve the suitable to interview them? Do you’ve gotten rights to approve or reject them?
  • When a coach begins, tips on how to they rise up to hurry together with your most popular approach of working? Do they arrive onshore for a time period?
  • How a lot flexibility have they got to mix the Partner’s approach of working with your individual? Do they’ve to totally comply towards an expectation by a sure date (for instance, an anticipated stage of Agile maturity)
  • How a lot flexibility have they got of their private teaching model -is it opportunistic, pathway pushed or a mix?


  • What Agile coaching shall be supplied or required by the Partner for its individuals? Is there a selected certifying physique, stage of proficiency or time interval that coaching needs to be accomplished by?
  • Do you partake within the coaching to advocate enhancements?
  • Are you answerable for offering all of the content material for the coach or for onboarding the coach within the supply strategy?


  • What is the minimal add and obtain velocity that Partner laptops have to satisfy? Throttling of connections can severely decelerate steady integration in groups and end in groups that keep away from checking code in continuously.
  • Should every workforce have a everlasting open channel (eg Skype or different) between the Partner and your organisation (to allow actual time communication) 
  • What different key communication instruments ought to every particular person have entry to? Who gives the licencing for these?


  • Are there minimal expectations of cross over hours for communication? Often groups and Product Owners have solely a two hour window (particularly between Australia and India) to speak – this consists of all Agile ceremonies and every other discussions about work. This batching of communication causes important delays in supply.
  • What dimension of assembly room and video conferencing amenities needs to be accessible to Partner groups? Often groups have a room, however it is just large enough to squeeze three or 4 individuals into it comfortably. 
  • Should all Partner workforce members (and even tribe) be positioned in a single metropolis and in the identical constructing (and even ground)? Co-location of tribes in order that they’re seated subsequent to one another is essential to lowering rework and enhancing velocity of supply.


  • Should Partner workforce members be  in a position to entry all instruments and knowledge from a single machine? Single machine help permits diminished downtime in switching units but in addition importantly reduces the possibility of communication batching.
  • What Story Management software ought to the Partner be utilizing? Who can pay the licence price and the way are they anticipated to make use of it? Be cautious right here, setting expectations that every one Stories have to be closed by the top of the Sprint will solely drive inaccurate reporting. Another instance is setting an expectation of no excellent defects by finish of Sprint – it could drive behaviour of groups commenting out take a look at instances or code.
  • What expectations/restrictions are there for the Partner to entry core instruments for coding and supply repository?
  • What mechanisms exist for Partners to escalate points with instruments, environments and entry to information?


  • What Agile ceremonies are Partner workforce members anticipated to attend?
  • What occurs if there’s a battle between Partner methods of working and your organisations most popular methods of working?
  • Should the Partner be anticipated to determine workforce norms (Social Contract) in collaboration together with your organisation?
  • What metrics is the Partner anticipated to report on? Don’t make this Velocity, it’s the improper factor regardless of it being  core Agile metric, look in the direction of velocity of options into manufacturing with excessive automated testing protection.
  • What Retrospectives are run on the Partner contractual/relationship administration stage to repeatedly enhance it?
  • How are new Partner groups onboarded with the best way of working? Is there an preliminary incubation interval the place they’re introduced onshore to know your organisation’s tradition?
  • How quick ought to supply impediments be resolved?
  • How ought to a Partner be concerned with buyer’s and buyer testing in order that they’re aligned with the wants of your prospects? 


  • What behaviours are inspired? For instance, elevating objections when an issue or answer is perceived to be poorly conceived no matter hierarchical place
  • How are you able to encourage full transparency of standing in order that if there’s unhealthy information this needs to be as quickly as it’s detected?
  • What assumptions ought to the Partner validate together with your organisation?
  • How empowered is the Partner to resolve issues themselves as they come up?
  • When visiting the Partner, do you have to be handled as a buyer or a workforce member? Do you deal with them as a Partner or a Vendor?
  • How are Partner leaders inspired to behave with their workforce members? To what extent to you uphold these values your self?

Technical Delivery

  • What expectations are there for automated exams and the extent of code protection?
  • How usually ought to the Partner be checking of their code?
  • On verify in, is there an expectation that’s is robotically constructed, re-validated by automated exams and deployed right into a take a look at setting?
  • Is bespoke code written for the organisation owned by the Partner or your self?
  • To what extent do you anticipate the Partner to make use of strategies like Feature Toggling?
  • How will the Partner be anticipated to stability each growth and operational help?
  • What SLAs exist for manufacturing defects?


  • Who is answerable for provision of environments for growth and testing?
  • How are defects detected throughout the Sprint anticipated to be resolved?
  • What are the Partner expectations for who does testing and in what environments? Where do stubs get used?


Looking in any respect of those issues you might be forgiven to assume that this doesn’t appear very Agile in any respect. Where is the collaborative and trusting mindset? Where is steady enchancment? Yes, ideally these types of issues wouldn’t be wanted in an Agile partnership, however on a journey to Agility, some readability of expectations might be higher than customary Waterfall contract agreements.

Categories: Agile, GovernanceTags: Agile, Contracts, Partnering, Vendor Management

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