Fixed bid Agile Projects are oxymoron
In the Agile India 2006 conference, we had a panel discussion on “Fixed bid agile projects are oxymoron”.
People in favor of fixed bid projects claimed that fixed bid projects are the reality of the software industry and these projects can greatly benefit from the agile practices. They also agreed that personally fixed bid projects are not the best way to budget a project.
While the rest claimed that fixed bid projects are essentially against the spirit of agile development. According to Kent Beck, there are 4 variables on any project:
Agile practitioners believe that change is inevitable. The requirements change, people change, market change, business rules change. Hence we cannot fix all these variables upfront. We would really like to keep the scope under our control even if the other three variables are fixed.
But fixed bid projects by definition expect all the four variables to be fixed. They expect that with good planning and estimation, one can fixed the scope, time and cost. Usually there is no option on quality. Hence everything is fixed upfront.
Some panelist felt that in spirit agile and fixed bid projects are oxymoron. But the apposing panelist felt that since we can use some of the practices and benefit from it, fixed bid agile projects are possible.
The point is just because you are using some of the practices, does it make you agile? One can apply some of the agile practices on a waterfall project; does that mean agile waterfall projects are possible? Nothing in waterfall stops you from pair programming, collective code ownership, refactoring, TDD, etc.
Next time you think of fixed bid agile projects, ask yourself whom are you fooling?