Interaction protocols between the client and development team
In 2020, mankind witnessed a huge shift from conventional to technological platforms. The rapidly changing dynamics fostered the need for software products in organizations and consequently the need of engaging with a development team. This has increased the importance and need for engagement models in previous years.
An engagement model is used to define the relationship between the client and the development team via a legally binding contract that contains the agreed rules, tasks, relevant deadlines, responsibilities, and commitments between the two parties. Over time different engagement models have been introduced to cater to the arising circumstances. The time and material model, fixed price model, dedicated team model and extended team model are four of the prominent ones that are highly used by organizations.
As suggested by the name, this model mainly focuses on the flexible provision of time and material. It is important to understand that time and resource constraints have a direct effect on software development, thus it is good for situations where the client is not sure about the project scope. In this, the client pays for the resources being used in a set period of time i.e. per day, per week, or month. Similarly, per day numbers of hours are set for the developers to work on the project because the pay is then calculated in accordance with it. This model facilitates the client to improvise the development process and make changes in the set criteria for resources, budget and time according to the changing business requirements
The key benefit of the time and materials model is the flexibility of amendments that it provides which empowers the client to keep a continuous check over the project’s progress and suggest relevant changes. Moreover, it saves time that is otherwise invested in estimating costs and analyzing risks before starting the project. However, it increases financial crisis risks as the end price is difficult to estimate as well as time mismanagement due to unclear deadlines and continuous changes. Furthermore, the client also has to continuously stay in contact with the development team and evaluate the process.
As the name hints, this model requires the client to provide a fixed budget, for the project, to the development team. Therefore, the client needs to define the project scope and then rigorously plan the time and resources needed for the development process. Once the agreement is made, the development team cannot make any changes without the approval of the client and the client also has to provide an extra budget for incorporating major changes. Thus, it should be opted in scenarios where it is possible to identify the scope and budget of the project easily, mainly for smaller projects.
The predefined budget and scope help the developing team to have a clear idea of what the client wants so it is easier for them to plan the process accordingly. Similarly, the client does not have to constantly supervise and evaluate the process. Adding on, one key benefit is that it lowers the risks of financial crisis by limiting the chances for the development team to overcharge the client. On the contrary, inflexibility for change makes it costly as well as time-consuming to implement something new. Thus, it requires significant time to evaluate the potential risks, turbulence, and budget while drafting the final plan for the project and then ensuring that they are clearly understood by the development team.
This model prioritizes the aspect of dedication in the team. The organizations, usually lacking technical experts, outsource services and a service provider acts as a facilitator to find software development professionals who fulfill the criteria, regarding experience and skill sets, given by the client. The team then dedicatedly works on the project and a project manager is made to ensure that things are well supervised. This is mostly used in cases where the scope of the project is not strictly defined.
The facility of outsourcing opens up various options for the organization, mainly the hiring of offshore teams that comparatively charge less as well as have expertise specifically in the required domain. Adding on, the project manager and the service provider can supervise the team so the client does not have to invest time in it. However, it may make it difficult to communicate what exact services the client requires, especially in the case of a language barrier. Also, not to forget the risk of sharing an organization’s sensitive information with some third party.
As evident from the name, it is extending the idea of a dedicated team that incorporates the concept of resource augmentation. This means that the credible software development professionals taken on board, who may be offshore, work along with the already functional development team. It is considered an alternative for outsourcing as the major control is with the client. It is often used by the client when the in-house team lacks some expertise and the client has to keep control over processes.
This model provides a good opportunity to connect to the international pool of credible individuals and have them on board for the process. Moreover, being the direct hirer, clients can ascertain whether the developer has the required skill or not, as well as manage the resources themselves without any intermediaries’ involvement. However, the cultural differences, remote work limitations, and communication gap between in-house and offshore developers can be a big hindrance in a smooth process.
To conclude, all the engagement models have their pros and cons. Still, over time they have helped to systematize the software development processes and provided a concrete outlook to the organizations of how things work in different scenarios.