Every software company has an ideal dream: Take orders, manage development, invest in deadlines, outperform competitors, and deliver the best results on the market. All this can happen in an ideal world, but under real circumstances, it is unlikely to happen.
Our team is developing IT-solutions for agribusiness. The boom in AgTech has been observed for the last 5 years, and on the condition that agro is a rather complicated business, development is not as easy as it may seem at first glance.
Our team chose the FFF approach: Fix time, Fix Budget, Flex scope — we record time, budget, the volume of work, and internal quality.
The first time I got acquainted with this approach was in the book “Getting Real”, you have an opportunity to read the book for free online.
Getting Real is a kind of approach to development, launch, and support. It is very close to the Agile methodology. The main elements: Minimal investment, minimally functional, maximum quality, test, and open interaction with the client.
In general, there are three most common approaches:
Fixed price (FP)
Time and Materials (T&M)
Fix time, Fixed Budget, Flex scope (FFF)
A couple of words about each approach.
Fixed price (FP) is a fixed three points of the project triangle: Time, money, and volume of work. Risks are taken by the performer and, as a result, these risks are reflected in the assessment, besides creating risks for the customer. The main advantage of this approach is the parameters of the project discussed before the beginning of work. Very often a business customer, it is necessary to specify in the contract the term, money, and volume of work. The internal quality of the product, in this case, is never recorded, so it is also sacrificed.
Time and Materials (T&M) — both budgets and internal quality of the system are fixed, although the second is often not approved because of a lack of funds on both sides. In classic form, the customer takes into the lease the resources of the performer at a fixed rate and manages them at his discretion. The executor is responsible for giving the highest quality product at the expense of his competence. The main risk is taken by the customer. Well, if it has a clear understanding of the future product, high-grade selling of the owners, and a clear technical task.
Fix time, Fix Budget, Flex scope (FFF) is a fixation of three points of the design triangle. The time for development, budget, and internal quality of the system is fixed. The contracts are drawn up with prepayment, the main angle on the final delivery of the project, and the task is described on the surface, so the scope of work is discussed and is variable. The main task remains to clearly track budget expenditures and to carry out tasks within clear deadlines. Sometimes the depth of tasks is changed and worked out during the stands and meetings, in which the customers are present.
TOP 5 reasons why AgriChain went to FFF
- Complexity of development.
Detailed fixing of tasks and requirements for development is a norm and in many cases an effective tool. Our team is developing solutions for agribusiness, whose activity depends on many factors: Legislation, newest discoveries, climate change, etc. Therefore, the practice of changing priorities and pre-agreed tasks for development is frequent.
Three components of complex IT-products development, in 99% of cases, are changed:
list of tasks to be done and this is normal;
the depth of their development and this makes the product stronger;
approach to system design and this increases the chances of competitive struggle.
This happens under the influence of the environment:
changes in the competitive market;
changes in the company’s strategy;
changes in the company’s internal policy;
feedback from product users.
- Importance of budget estimation for money owners.
If you estimate the amount of work is not possible with sufficient accuracy, can you not do it at all? There is this IT movement #NoEviates. According to him, we should organize the process of development in such a way that the tasks from the stage of the idea to the issue in the sale, but at the same time maintain high internal quality. The development process is based on Kanban software with the tracking of certain metrics. There are many supporters of the current, but life is so happy that the budget owners need an assessment if it comes to serious developments.
- Internal quality of the system
Working with the FFF approach is comfortable, provided there are competent developers because only they can give high internal quality of the product. Here and check letters of best practices, nonstop review code, architecture, and constant testing.
Putting quality criteria into the contract and recording reputation in the market is not only important for development today, but it also is not a material investment in the future of the developer company.
- Flexibility and predictability
Bureaucratic assessments mean life for everyone, and the customer, because he wants to get a sharp decision as soon as possible, and for developers, because people want to get a financial reward, not to learn in each letter of attachments and contracts. However, how else to start work?
The best option is to fix time, budget and quality, but the volume of work to leave floating. In addition, the customer and the developer must agree that they are performing the first important tasks, and changing the color of the button can be daily, but is it necessary? When most of the functions did not even start to coded.
With our practice, we realized that FFF gives the right motivation to the customer and the performer. In the FFF approach, everyone has to invest in communication, work within the project, move on a clear plan to make the most important in full, and at the same time satisfy all terms of the contract.
Conclusion. Choose FFF
We have chosen to record time, budget, and internal quality because it is the most balanced approach. It reduces the risks of the customer and the performer, creates the right motivational component, is flexible, and, as a result, enables to the creation of high-quality and functional it-products.