Fixed priced quotes for Agile projects

I don’t often bid for work. In the past, I’ve normally been approached to work on a project by someone who either knows me, has worked with me, or has had some sort of recommendation. So it was a unique experience to write a proposal for a client who I believe wants a fixed price quote.

For one thing, software development is a Wicked Problem. In my early years of software development, I’d spent time doing traditional big design up front in an attempt to ‘nail down the requirements’. I can say now, with hindsight, that that is one of the riskiest ways of doing software development.

But I can understand the desire to know exactly how much something will cost, even if it’s not clear exactly what it is I’ll be building. My approach has been to Educate. Emphasising that there will be regular releases (I release weekly as a minimum) and to show that the client will have excellent visibility into progress means that very quickly it’ll be possible to measure planned vs actual business benefits.

Whether that is enough to win a project or not, I guess we’ll see. But I’m happier not getting the work rather than having to work on a fixed price project with vague initial specs and the ensuing contract negotiation that happens afterwards.