In a previous post I had written about frequent delivery. Sachin asks in this comment how likely it is that a customer would be willing to check delivery after delivery. This is a good question thats worth going into some more detail.
Customers worry about two things: (1) Is anything progress happening in their project and (2) is it going to turn out the way they want. The worst nightmare for a customer is to not hear anything about the project until the end when they are told its only 50% done, and then they wait more time only to see the final product and find it unusable. In short, they want visibility into the project.
Now, different customers want different amounts of visibility. If a customer doesnt care if they project succeeds or not, they may want only one delivery in the end. At the other extreme, some customers may be willing to dedicate one person for the entire duration of the project to see how it is going. In Agile terminology, this is called having an onsite customer. Ideally, this would be the best situation, but it's not always possible. These are the two extremes. Somewhere in the middle are customers who want to see the project once in a while, if only for their peace of mind.
The ideal delivery cycle depends on two factors: how often the customer wants to see the progress, and how often you can make a delivery.
If it's a web based project, a delivery cycle of 3 weeks is possible. If it's a complex project with lots of deployment for each release, the delivery cycle will be somewhere around once in 3 months, which translates to around 4 deliveries for a year long project. If you are creating a product, the "customer" may be the QA team or the evangelist/stakeholder for your product. They may be willing to spend more time looking over the software.
Its up to the team to negotiate a suitable delivery cycle depending upon the customers willingness, the complexity of project deployment and how fast the team can add and test features.
In they end, the customer is paying for the software, so they would be definately willing to see it before the final delivery, especially if they are told that this increases the chances of a successfull product. Most customers have gone through projects with no visibility with disaster at the end and they would be totally thrilled that someone is actually willing to show them the product as it comes along.
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