agile > chapter 3 iterative and incremental execution and delivery > 7 deadlines costs and people

Deadlines, Cost and People

We need to consider when the end of the project will be (along with its delivery dates), the persons who will be involved in the project and what the total cost of the work will be.

These are essential to determining both the contractual arrangements and the constraints under which we will be working.

By breaking requirements down into a list of tasks to complete, we avoid blank sheet syndrome which is the result of not knowing where to start.

We must consider the size of the work team and who will be working on the project full-time versus part-time - the latter can significantly reduce the weekly work capacity of the team (400 hours for 10 persons working full-time compared to the 200 hours if those persons were operating on a part-time basis).

Reserving time for the management process

Having a weekly work capacity of 400 hours is the ideal but when we factor in wastage and the complexity of certain technical tasks, the time we spend doing work at peak efficiency is less than ideal.

Even if we correctly estimate the work that the team will be able to achieve, there is still the technical overhead required by iteration planning, daily stand-ups, demo/review meetings and retrospective meetings.

Pro Tip: Put daily stand-ups at the end of the work day and don't mandate that the persons on the work team actually have to stand up. Foster an environment where the team members feel inspired to share with the team the work they have accomplished that day - relax and discuss, no presentation required (do not incur technical overhead unless the team member chooses to do so on their own). Dailies should also be very short in order to avoid incurring a large time cost.

Only the demo is required to be of a substantial length because it is how we showcase and gain feedback from the business/product owner.

Available team and mandatory deadline

If the ideal work capacity is 200 hours because of limited resources in the company and is 190 hours after setting aside time for meetings then we must use this actual value to determine the length of each iteration. We cannot have a 1-week iteration time box which caters for 400 hours minus meeting time when the actual capacity is 200 hours minus meeting time - the new iteration length will have to be 2 weeks.

Given a deadline that is 6 months after the commencement of the project, we will be limited to having 12 2-week iterations in total. We can also determine the cost of the work from these numbers.


Having to manage the schedule, people and costs incurs certain disadvantages: