Agile Project Elaboration: Seed Money

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In traditional waterfall projects, it’s quite common to have a two-stage approval process, especially when it comes to raising funds to develop a new idea.

Stage 1 approval provides sufficient funding to get a project started and complete the analysis phase. Once analysis has been completed and a detailed specification written, the project can be more accurately estimated and a further request is made for full funding of the project.

So how would you tackle an agile project with this kind of approach to the funding?

First of all, this two-stage approval process for funding a new project is still valid with an agile approach. It’s simply an unavoidable reality that some work has to be done before a project can be reasonably well understood and estimated. And this work, unless there’s a permanent team already in place, needs funding before an investment decision can be made.

So, in an agile project, what outputs might you produce with the initial funding? You certainly wouldn’t want to complete a full analysis phase and detailed specification. But you would need something.

Here are some ideas:

  • Visuals or Wireframes
  • Research (User/Customer/Market Research)
  • Prototype
  • Proof of Concept
  • Technical Feasibility Study
  • Initial Product Backlog (feature list)
  • High-level Architecture
  • Technology Selection
  • Estimates
  • Team/Resource Requirements
  • Release Plan/Product Roadmap
  • Costs
  • Business Case
  • Project Initiation Presentation

Whether or not you produce all of this depends entirely on your project, of course, and whether or not you feel it is of value. In any case it should be high level, not fully comprehensive. Sufficient to shape the project and understand the requirements and solution better. Sufficient to understand how much funding should be requested to complete the project.

If initial funding permits, you may also be able to establish the project team and complete a few short sprints, in order to understand the team’s Velocity for planning purposes. But this would depend not only on the initial funds available, but also on the likelihood of full approval.


Photo by tico bassie