Agile is great as it allows flexibility and adaptability, moving far away from the bad old days of fixed, long-term, immovable project plans.
However, stakeholders usually want to know when things are going to be ready, and Agile doesn’t deal so much with fixed deadlines. How can you deal with this?
1. Explain Agile principles to stakeholders
Help stakeholders to understand Agile’s core principles. Mention the value of iterative development, flexibility and responsiveness to change. Explain that Agile prioritises delivery high-quality features over fixed release schedules.
2. Set realistic expectations
While Agile doesn’t focus on dates like a project plan does, gaining a sense of predictability is important. Instead of giving a project end date, you can give short-term release dates or ranges of target dates for key milestones. Be sure to emphasise that these are estimates, and estimates can change based on evolving priorities and requirements.
3. Use collaborative planning
Invite stakeholders to collaborative planning sessions where priorities and trade-offs are discussed. Encourage stakeholders to participate in shaping the direction. Doing so promotes a shared understanding of project progress and priorities.
4. Embrace a continuous delivery mindset
Promote the benefits of continuous delivery in your team. Explain how small, frequent releases provide value regularly, reduce risks, and also reduce the need for long-term planning. Encourage stakeholders to focus on actual updates to the software over sterile status reports.
5. Negotiate and compromise
When stakeholders insist on deadlines, be prepared to negotiate and find compromises. Understand their concerns and try to address them while staying as true to Agile principles as you can.
Balancing Agile with stakeholders asking for dates requires education, collaboration, and flexibility. By using these approaches, you can foster a productive dialogue that benefits both your team and the wider company.