So enough water has passed under the bridge now for me to feel comfortable telling this story.
Some time ago, I was working with a client who I had helped adopt an Agile Way Of Working (so far no surprises)
As a large portion of their work was what could be best described as “Software Development Work for Hire”, once they got the basics mastered for in house jobs, their attention quickly turned towards “How could we use this way of working to deliver software to our clients?” Quite frankly, they were sold on both the process and the results, and were keen on passing on the benefits.
So the discussion then quickly moved onto the age old question of “What am I going to get and when am I going to get it?”.
Since real money was on the line we embarked on a three day workshop using some fairly sophisticated risk and forecasting models to create what we all believed was a genuinely economically viable release plan and project cost. We were living the dream.
It was at this point that the account manager decided to join us in the conference room to see the fruits of our labour.
It did not go well.
His face went red, his temples began to pulse and spittle began to form at the corners of his mouth.
"I can't believe you spent 3 whole days on this and then GOT THE ESTIMATES WRONG" (he spluttered)
The Team was gutted and I was incredulous.
For my sins, I tried to explain that actually, as far as estimates go, these were pretty good ones. I foolishly started to explain the process and the science behind what we’d done.
It didn’t help. The Estimates were COMPLETELY WRONG.
Then I twigged. If our beloved account manager was claiming that our estimates were wrong (with absolute certainty I might add) , then clearly he must know what the right estimates were.
So I simply asked – “How do you know they’re wrong?”
"Because I've *already agreed* what the estimates are with the client and they've signed off on them. "