How to sell agile software development

I have found that Selling Agile Development is easier than I would have initially expected it to be.  The selling process is usually so complex.  In the more complex cases it starts with a Request for Proposal.  You will then wade through dozens of pages that may specify technologies, and how much load they are expecting, what type of hardware it will be on and usually only a single page of bullet points that is designed for you to try to grasp what it is they really want.  It will often have items for connecting to this system or that API and all these seeming small details that have high amounts of risk.  From this they want you to give them a number and sign your name agreeing to that amount.  Ack.  If it’s a project I’m interested in I will do it, but these are the sales I dread the most because you have to write so much, you really have to outline exactly what the system will do and also what it won’t do for that price.  Then if you do get the project you have to be extremely conscious of cost, features and your change orders.  Things the client and I hate.  Agile selling doesn’t work so well in these cases, I would have a hard time selling agile if I’m in a position where I cannot be in front of someone explaining it to them.

How my recent Agile pitch went.

I received a call from a Michigan company who found us on the internet and were looking for bids on their project. Normally I don’t get very excited about leads who start off saying they are getting bids, and shopping around but this project sounded interesting.  I try to be pretty straight forward and asked them what they had budget for this project, he told me, and I promptly scheduled a time to meet with some of their VPs. 

They had already talked to a couple companies by the time I had meet with them, and I know I was the only one who pitched Agile, they loved it.  There system was rather complex, they had a couple phases in their mind and they described them all and I could quickly see that they were outlining both mandatory features and the nice to have features.  After going through everything they said all the other companies were delivering their proposals on Tuesday next week.  It gave me three days, I looked at everything they had went over again and dreaded making that proposal.  No way was I going to be able to take everything we discussed and in a couple days outline a price and timeline to take it all on.

So, I began my Agile pitch.  I started off by explaining that we do software a bit different then other companies.  I discussed the Waterfall model, where everything was attempted to be outlined out front, and then they probably wouldn’t see the project until a month before it was due.  What happened then when they realize that there are many critical things missing that they couldn’t think of when they originally scoped the project.  Change orders, lots of cost and delayed project.

I then proceeded to discuss the Web Ascender team, each individual, their skills their experience and said  I could have one developer, a part time architect and part time designer on the project for X dollars an hour.  We would meet with their team at least weekly, and every two weeks deliver a working piece of software they could actually use and we would encourage their feedback.  Every two weeks we would reprioritize what is important for the next phase, they would always determine what they needed next in their application.  I couldn’t tell them exactly what their system would cost them, but if the loved what we had in eight 2 week sprints then we end it there, if they want the super whiz bang features then we continue on working a couple more months and wrap those up. 

They got it, they understood that we would be an extension of them.  They could see how they could essentially build their software by us just being an extension of them.  By working closely with their staff every week or multiple times a week their voice would be heard and the application would have a higher success and adoption rate in the office.

After talking to them about it, unfortunately I still had to write a proposal but it was only 8 pages rather than 35.  

The agile developers manifesto was one of those pages.

Post Rating

Rating: Article Rating

Post Comment

comments powered by Disqus

Keep up to date with the latest happenings by signing up for my newsletter. This will be monthly at most, so go ahead and learn something today!

My Ventures

view all »
  • Web Ascender

    Web Ascender

    Web/Mobile design & development.
    Learn More »

  • Post Kudos

    Post Kudos

    Mobile App for client testimonials and customer reviews.
    Learn More »

  • File Ascender

    File Ascender

    Easily upload and share files from anywhere.
    Learn More »

  • DNN Spot

    DNN Spot

    High quality, easy to use, accessible and search engine friendly modules.
    Learn More »

My Books

view all »

Executive Guide to Web Design

This book is designed for business executives who want to learn about critical factors that affect your businesses website and online marketing. After reading this guide you will be comfortable working with your web design firm, marketing department and steering the direction of your company's online success.
Learn More »

What Internet Startups Need to Know

Are you interested in making the next big thing? Do you have a great idea, know your industry, and have a good way to get your product into the hands of others? This short e-book will go through the primary things to consider when evaluating and executing on your web or mobile application startup.
Learn More »

I Speak!

I do presentations to small local groups as well as Fortune 500 companies.  I have been requested to speak about:

  • Entrepreneurship experience
  • Running a small business
  • Using Social Media to improve your business
  • Personal branding
  • Internet Marketing
  • Web design and internet trends
  • Numerous programming topics

Contact Ryan Doom »