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Unlocking Success with Lean Agile Procurement

Introduction: The Serendipitous Journey to Lean Agile Procurement

My journey into Lean Agile Procurement began quite serendipitously. A pivotal conversation with Mirko Kleiner, much like my earlier discussions with Rich Hundhausen when I became a Professional Scrum Trainer (PST), set the stage. After speaking at an event, Mirko shared insights about the Lean Agile Procurement movement. Instantly, I realized it was the missing ingredient many organizations needed.

The Evolution of Agile: From IT Bubbles to Organizational Integration

The Origins and Expansion of Agile

  • Toyota Production System: The manufacturing side of Lean and Agile is well-documented through sources like “The Toyota Way.”
  • Agile in IT: Initially, Agile practices were confined to developers and coders, often excluding other organizational roles.

The Rise of Product Management

  • Historical Perspective: Product managers have been around since the 1950s, championed by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland. However, their role has gained renewed focus in aligning with value streams and enhancing product ownership.

The Challenge: Traditional Contracts vs. Agile Flexibility

The Constraints of Traditional Contracts

Traditional contracts often hinder Agile adoption. They are typically prescriptive, focusing on hitting milestones rather than fostering flexibility. Here’s what typically happens:

  • Requirement Sign-offs: Teams working Agile must meet rigid partner demands for requirement sign-offs and sealed product backlogs.
  • Invoicing Issues: Partners often withhold invoices until specific milestones are met, leading to financial bottlenecks.

The Need for Iterative and Incremental Partnerships

Lean Agile Procurement introduces techniques and practices to establish flexible, iterative, and incremental partnerships. This approach aims for a win-win situation, promoting collaboration and adaptability.

Overcoming Common Procurement Pitfalls

The Bug vs. Change Request Dilemma

One common issue is partners labeling clear bugs as change requests to drive up costs. This practice often arises from:

  • Low Initial Bids: Partners offer low bids to secure contracts and then inflate costs through change requests.
  • Golden Handcuffs: Companies become financially trapped, paying exorbitant fees for necessary changes.

The Bait-and-Switch Tactic

Another frequent problem is partners presenting their best team during the pitch and then substituting less experienced staff post-contract. This practice results in:

  • Reduced Expertise: Organizations don’t receive the high-quality expertise initially promised.
  • Contractual Loopholes: Partners exploit contractual language to justify personnel changes.

Implementing Lean Agile Procurement: Best Practices

Establishing Clear Expectations

To avoid these pitfalls, organizations should:

  • Engage Collaboratively: Formulate partnerships with a clear understanding and mutual goals.
  • Specify Teams: Ensure the contract includes the names and roles of key personnel.
  • Define Change Management: Establish a transparent process for managing changes and fair payment terms.
  • Adopt Iterative Delivery: Promote iterative and incremental delivery methods.

Real-World Consequences of Poor Contracts

Poor contracting can lead to massive overspends and inefficiencies. Consider the following examples:

  • F-35 Program: The single biggest overspend in defence history due to poor contracts.
  • HMS Prince of Wales: The British aircraft carrier faced significant issues, including misaligned drive shafts and non-nuclear power, highlighting design and contractual flaws.

Lean Agile Procurement in Action: The Big Room Session

What is a Big Room Session?

A Big Room Session is a collaborative meeting where all stakeholders gather to discuss and agree on project terms, expectations, and delivery methods. This session helps:

  • Align Objectives: Ensure all parties have a shared understanding of project goals.
  • Enhance Collaboration: Foster a cooperative environment for problem-solving.
  • Promote Transparency: Create a clear roadmap for delivery and adaptation.

Conclusion: Embracing Lean Agile Procurement

Lean Agile Procurement is a transformative approach that aligns organizations and partners towards a common goal. By fostering iterative and incremental delivery, establishing clear expectations, and promoting collaborative partnerships, organizations can:

  • Enhance Flexibility: Adapt to changes swiftly and efficiently.
  • Improve Collaboration: Build stronger, more effective partnerships.
  • Achieve Success: Set the stage for long-term success and innovation.

Ready to Experiment?

What’s stopping you from running an experiment with Lean Agile Procurement? Embrace the change and set your organization up for success!


Key Takeaways:

  • Lean Agile Procurement bridges the gap between Agile teams and traditional contracts.
  • Common pitfalls include rigid contracts, financial bottlenecks, and the bait-and-switch tactic.
  • Best practices involve clear expectations, iterative delivery, and collaborative partnerships.
  • Big Room Sessions foster alignment, collaboration, and transparency.

🚀 Start your Lean Agile Procurement journey today and unlock unparalleled organizational success! 🚀

Connect with Advanced Product Delivery.

APD offer private, tailored training courses as well as business agility and coaching. Our public training courses are delivered by practicing Agilists: Product Owners, Scrum Masters and coaches who are expert trainers and facilitators.

Whether you are looking to become a #scrummaster or #agilecoach, we have a range of internationally certified and recognised #agiletraining courses that are perfect for you. Visit Professional Scrum Training courses for more information.

If you are looking for professional, deeply experienced and skilled #agilecoaches and #agileconsultants to help you transition from traditional #projectmanagement to #agile #productdevelopment, we’ve got the ideal team to help you make that transition a success. Visit our Agile Coaching section to find out more about us.

If you have identified Lean Agile Procurement as a great opportunity to enhance #agility within your organization, visit the Lean Agile Procurement Training course or Lean Agile Procurement coaching page.

#agile #scrum #agilecoach #agileconsultant #agiletraining #agilescrumtraining #scrumtraining #scrumcertification #scrummaster #productowner #leanagileprocurement #apd #businessagility #organizationalagility #productdevelopment #projectmanagement #agileprojectmanagement #agileproductdevelopment

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