During the initial phase of a project, it is very common for a team to develop an initial story list. From this list of stories, estimates are created and from these estimates, some sort of plan is created. In this plan, delivery dates will be specified, with specific dates for different milestones.
As scope and delivery velocity becomes clearer, this initial plan needs to be revised, milestones need to reviewed, brought forward were necessary or conversations initiated and action taken to address issues that will prevent milestones or delivery dates from being met.
What happens too often in agile projects is the scope and budget are sometimes revised on the completion of an iteration - as further clarity is made about what is feasible, sometimes time is revised as part of this discussion.
However, when milestones and delivery dates that were predicted based of initial estimates are kept. Typical side effects are often observed. These include:
- When the project is ahead of schedule, the team slacks due to being at a healthy velocity, instead of moving delivery dates forward
- When the project is ahead of schedule, the customer is unable to take strategic advantage of the new delivery or milestone dates by adjusting other supporting business departments to take advantage of it
- When the project is behind schedule, the team ends up having to stretch as later in the project, scope and cost often become fixed
To avoid the side effects of a Static Agile Plan, critical project deadlines should be reviewed. As a team iterates further into a project, further clarity is made around the teams velocity and certainty about future work, this information needs to be fed back in to the plan and should be used to produce a more accurate plan.