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There has been something of a misconception, a mismatch of expectations, when we consider opportunities for organisational improvement. We have all been seeking and in many ways expecting a silver bullet solution. Time will tell whether this Toolkit or another is the elusive silver bullet solution. But for now, we will look realistically at what we expect and what this Toolkit is likely to deliver. If this arrives at your silver bullet solution, then that is great.

A conventional waterfall development will deliver you a solution that is somewhere near to the one you planned. It will likely deliver a level of quality that is somewhere near the level you expected. It will likely deliver at a time and cost somewhere near the time and cost you expected, but that is it. We have familiarity with management expectations dashed when offered the results of a waterfall development. So we go into this type of project expecting the worst, anticipating failure, awaiting the expected request for more time or budget or the dreaded project cancellation announcement. 9 times out of 10, we get what we expected.

Conversely, we go into agile developments expecting the most. We accept it will deliver on time, of course. We expect it to deliver to budget, naturally. We know it will deliver to a level of quality and that this level of finish or quality will be validated by our business people. So we tend not to worry about such things. This is where our worries and expectations will end. This is the result we should seek, but we often ask for more.

No development methodology provides an order of magnitude improvement over another. Let us be clear, order of magnitude improvements are improvements by a factor of 10. No methodology is going to be 10 times quicker, 10 times cheaper, 10 times better than any other. We do not expect the next model release from our favourite car manufacturer to be 10 times faster, 10 times roomier or 10 times more economical than the previous model. You do not expect 10 times the amount of money in your next wage payment or 10 times the number of beans when you open the next can. That level of expectation is way too high.

What we see and what we deliver though are solutions our clients were unable to deliver in any other way. Naturally, we never deliver late; we cannot do as we follow the principles. Certainly we have delivered solutions where the level of quality was higher than the client expected. The customer has often seen their projects delivered before with differing levels of testing, validation and quality management. Nevertheless, their systems failed summary validation and demanded workarounds and fixes from day one.

We deliver to budget, of course. We have even delivered under budget. Almost in every case, this is due to the cautious estimation of our customer who demanded and insisted on levels of contingency normally applied to waterfall projects. Agile projects, we find, can benefit from some level of contingency. However because we reduce waste in agile projects and reduced time wasted in unnecessary project deviations, we use less contingency.

So expect your project to deliver a level of quality that your business is happy with. Expect the project not to go over time or over budget and build your key expectations around these important tenets. However, you will get challenges when you seek to introduce any new change. This Toolkit is no exception so let us look at the challenges you can expect.

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