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/ 13 Jan 2015

Agile Contracts are empowering Business Development Projects

Just as the law has had to adapt more and more to constant changes in societal attitudes, with that, it has also had to adapt to many technological changes which continue to take place at an accelerated rate. Such changes are not only in respect of the law itself but also relate to how legal services (including contracts) are presented and delivered. The practices of contemporary and less conventional business development forms, especially in the IT and software industry, are challenging the drafting traditions of legal professionals who need to consider more ways than solely relying on the provision of a change control procedure in order to facilitate the degree of flexibility and expected responsiveness to change that is required. This is because it is the intention of the parties that things like fixing errors in response to feedback is to be regarded as part and parcel of the natural development process of the project rather than a possible breach of contract thus fuelling disputes and claims.

Many changes that have been embraced as a result of technological advancements have also been orchestrated so that businesses and their clients have a way of reducing costs. Businesses are constantly setting about to embrace technologically advanced working practices to streamline costs for themselves and their customers and to therefore reduce the potential for liability and risk in the process for both parties concerned.

Agile development principles, although not a new concept or practice, have been largely associated solely with large-scale, cutting-edge developments. However, now, it is fast becoming the domain of the mainstream i.e. business development teams large and small are now using agile development methodologies for anything from start-up software development projects to large-scale, complex projects such as the jubilee line extension to aerospace shuttle engineering exploits.

Software platforms such as www.pivotaltracker.com are the hootsuite for agile development projects.
Non-agile practices have often caused issues for contracting parties due to, for example, projects going uncontrollably over-budget, deadlines being missed/ pushed further in to the distance and snags not being detected and fixed sooner in the process…all for lack of implementing a more transparent and incremental approach by way of collaborative and iterative delivery of the target business objectives which reflect the expectations and needs of the project and the persons driving it.

It is obvious then that if the project and the people playing a role in that project hold flexibility at the heart of it, then the contract too must be drafted in a way that is flexible, transparent, clear and responsive to change.
Bye bye to ‘big bang’ development wherein “what you get is what you didn’t necessarily ask for!” and hello (again) to ‘agile’ wherein collaboration and transparency reigns and “what you get is what you asked for! and… if it isn’t what you initially asked for, then the agile process has helped the parties come to realise what was actually needed and that’s what they have instead!”

If you are developing agile projects and you have yet to put in place legal documentation that accurately reflects your agile approach, then do get in touch and we can provide you with an agile contract which will not stultify your creativity or rigidify your progress!

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