The project manager was obviously a little irritated. “By this stage of the pre-study, we really should have the requirements a little more nailed down than this. That’s two new requirements since last week. Or what does everyone think?” he looks around the table, expecting support. The business representative looks disappointed and hangs his head.

Without really thinking, I follow my instinct and jump in. “It seems wrong to me to say to the customer that he can’t have any more features at this stage. Perhaps he should be prepared to drop something else instead, but surely we should be prepared to respond to the needs of the business? We are still in the pre-study, after all”

The project manager was not impressed. “This pre-study has already been going on for nearly 2 months, we really need to put together a budget and project plan so we can pass the next tollgate and proceed to the implementation phase.” He looked around the table sternly, then his frown softened a little. “Well ok, you can have these two new requirements. Let’s take a look at them”

A few days later, the project manager called me into his office.
– “You can’t go telling the customer he’s allowed to change his mind. After that meeting he came to me with more requirements. Your comments confused him as to how our software development process works. Please don’t do it again”.
– “But I though we were trying to be agile in this project? You know, short release cycles, end of iteration demos, like in Scrum”.
– “Yes, we are following a process which is more agile than the standard company mandated process. We have got permission to skip two of the tollgates, and 5% extra in the budget for ‘adjustments’ so we can respond to the customer feedback we get at each demo. We are not doing Scrum though. Who told you that?”

Sigh. I heard “agile”. What I should have heard was “more agile than the standard company process”.