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A bank decided that it wants to implement agile, so it hired a few agile coaches to help throughout the journey.

However the bank has fixed deadlines (in the next 6-12 months) that aren't going anywhere, because if they do, they could jeopardize the bank's position, and it would cost a lot of money from failing to meet contracts all over the place.

When managers were highlighted of this risk, their reply was that they want both: agile transformation and achieved deadlines, slowly but surely, and that they don't want to do either full agile in one go or drop the transformation and just meet the deadlines.

What would you consult the management team of this bank to do? And what would you consult the coaches to do when facing such a situation?

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Agile is not incompatible with deadlines

It is unrealistic to expect any business, not just this bank, to put everything on hold in order to implement Agile transformation. Think of this as fixing a problem in the USS Enterprise while on an interstellar mission. There is no place nearby to land, fix-it and then continue the journey.

And what would you consult the coaches to do when facing such a situation?

  1. Collect additional information: Fixed deadlines are not problems for Agile, but fixed requirements are. So, find out whether there are contractual commitments to deliver fixed requirements.

  2. Reset expectations: If there are fixed requirements, see if they can be renegotiated. Even if these are projects for internal customers, expectations have to be renegotiated and reset.

  3. Identify one (or more) medium sized project as the pilot: If the project is too big, the risk may be unacceptably high. If the project is too small, it may be too trivial to convince others.

  4. Secure stakeholder time and involvement: Agile requires stakeholders to be closely involved. At a minimum, stakeholders must set aside time to participate in the Sprint Review and provide critical feedback. Often they may also need to provide in-depth feedback for UI/UX design and do some User Acceptance Testing as well.

  5. Prepare an Agile Roadmap: Don't fly blind. A roadmap like this should help guide the team and set expectations with Management.

What would you consult the management team of this bank to do?

  1. Leadership support is critical during a time of change: Change brings uncertainty. The leadership should be fully convinced about the reasons for switching to Agile and be prepared to back it up with strong support.

  2. Be ready to roll-out a MVP (Minimum Viable Product) to end users early and get feedback: Even though there may be some pain of extra work, this reduces risk of big failures.

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