Software development works best when everyone is on the same team.  We need to pull together to be most effective.  However, the sub-groups and members of a team have differing goals.  That is why we have things like contracts.  We sometimes have to put down our plans and goals in writing.  Negotiating these things can be tedious and even can cause some negative feelings.  Therefore, we value customer collaboration over contracts.

…Through this work we have come to value:…

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

Differing Values and Concerns

We can all agree that some people lack honor.  Some people and organizations are a step above thieves.  I find those to be uncommon and an issue not worth worrying about for this discussion.  Nevertheless, we will run into situations where there are conflicting goals for the different groups that make up a team.

These differences may be noticeable, like a vendor wanting a reasonable rate vs. a customer that prefers a discount.  On the other hand, there may be less apparent differences, such as a group that values quality over timeliness.  That give-and-take is not a detriment.

Contract Negotiation

The concept of contract negotiation pushes us towards the customer-vendor relationship.  One wants the most work done for their money, and the other desires the most compensation for their work.  I realize this is an over-simplification.  However, it sets the stage for negotiating multiple items within a project.  These extremes are not realistic, and that allows us to negotiate agreements that can be considered a “win-win.”  This principle points to a more considerable value.  We can collaborate and build up goodwill that allows us to coast over those points of contention.

Communication and Expectations

Once again, we find ourselves discussing clear communication and setting expectations.  These are proactive steps that have more value than reactive contract negotiation.  Thus, customer collaboration allows us to address challenges and differing goals before they fester and become major issues.  We also can make adjustments earlier in a project when they are less costly.  Of course, all of this does not even begin to count the time spent in negotiations that can be better spent elsewhere.

The Twelve Principles and Overall Manifesto

Challenge of The Week: When did you last have to negotiate a contract?  Do you work towards win-win?

Rob Broadhead

Rob is a founder of, and frequent contributor to, Develpreneur. This includes the Building Better Developers podcast. He is also a lifetime learner as a developer, designer, and manager of software solutions. Rob is the founder of RB Consulting and has managed to author a book about his family experiences and a few about becoming a better developer. In his free time, he stays busy raising five children (although they have grown into adults). When he has a chance to breathe, he is on the ice playing hockey to relax or working on his ballroom dance skills.

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