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12th Nov. Susan Atkinson & The problem with Agile and contracts + Thom Lawrence on What I Learned About Enterprise Sales From Apocalypse Now

posted 25 Nov 2013, 09:49 by Royd Brayshay
Susan Atkinson presenting
The type of influence a contract has over a software project may not always be clear at the outset either to the engineers or the lawyers who drafted it; but it can be profound.  Innovation, in the form of agile thinking, within software engineering process has been embraced by many parts of the IT industry, however commercial arrangements have changed little. It's not even easy to find commentary from the legal profession on the subject. One of the few voices that does appear at conferences and on the web is that of Susan Atkinson (@satkinson42). At the Agile Yorkshire's November gathering Susan presented her ideas to a packed room of attentive listeners.

First with a history lesson in management practice and a round up traditional contract mechanisms together with a deconstruction of the mismatch between the realities of product development. Then a round up of what has been tried to date, followed by listing the various flavours of agile contracts that are in present use including earlier work from Susan herself.  They too were subject to similar scrutiny and the shortcomings exposed.

Finally the scene was set to focus on the work Susan had done most recently in collaboration with agile community veteran Gabrielle Benefield. Their experience and feedback from previous ventures has lead to current thinking that focuses on business goals, target outcomes and the 007 Model. This work is very new, having been published on the Flexible Contracts website only in the past few weeks; but represents much learning to date. Their new outcome based contract is published under an open-source licence and is available on their website as a free download. A book on the subject is also to be published in the future.

Thom Lawrence not quite missing in action
The November gatherings support slot was filled by Thom Lawrence (@hotwoofy) and his allegory charting the journey his start-up company Delver.io has taken into enterprise sales. Through the metaphor of Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now and Captain Willard's jungle odyssey to meet the insane Colonel Kurtz, the tips and tricks of enterprise sales success were exposed. The session feedback proved its popularity and for the enterprise vets. in the audience the war stories, body count and general chaos were obviously familiar.

The evening finished with the regular prize draw. Thanks to our sponsors O'ReillyJetBRAINS, Manning and now Wrox for once again for generously providing the prizes.

Finally, thanks to all those who help make the monthly meet-ups run smoothly - it wouldn't be possible to run such events without this help.

See you next month at December competition or at Code and Coffee in York or Leeds if you need your fix sooner!

Royd.

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