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I'd like to define the following case as the Loner Freelance Case:

  • The freelancer is a full-stack web designer and developer.
  • The client is a small company who wants a web page.

Many software development enterprises use agile methodologies to get their job done. I've researched agile's approach to the software development process to see whether or not it is viable on a small team. If so, I figure it can be applicable to other scenarios (say, with more people involved). I've learned that their main advantage lies in their adaptability to change. This can be really useful in many cases, but especially in the loner freelance case.

From what I've learned, I can conclude that delivering a usable product to the client often results in that client collaborates rather than observing the process, giving a valuable feedback.

I have a few questions, though:

  1. Is my conclusion correct?
  2. In the loner freelance case, could the relation between the client and the freelance be considered a "team" because both work together?
  3. Assuming the agile methodologies are meant for teamwork, could it be useful in the Loner Freelance Case, even though it's not exactly a "team"?

Side note: I have seen this question, but this question involves only two entities in the development process: the freelancer and the client.

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Irrespective of whether you are following Agile practices, if you do not involve the client from the outset, or someone else who can make decisions about project deliverables on behalf of the client (a Business Stakeholder in Agile parlance), then the odds are stacked very heavily against you actually delivering a product that the client wants and can use. This is even more important if there is only 2 people in the team - stakeholder and developer.

My experience of both Agile (7 years as lead developer on numerous Agile projects) and Freelancing (4+ years as a contractor) have shown me that the projects upon which I was working alone with a client and adopted strict Agile processes were the projects that were most successful in terms of delivering a product that the client was happy with.

The key to making use of the ideas behind Agile for a lone freelancer is to define the overall features up front and a priority order for those deliverables, whilst leaving room for change within those feature definitions. The danger with this approach (that you must be mindful of from the outset) is not to leave too much room for change. Instead, try to define what comes under the remit of allowable change and what would trigger a change request (with corresponding cost). If you're not careful, it becomes fairly easy for a client to simply fixate on the "change" aspect and cause you massive rework at no extra cost to them, which can quickly make a project unworkable from your end.

The more closely you can collaborate with the client, particularly in the beginning, the better in terms of overall delivery success. The other key part of Agile that is important is the idea of iterative development. Request feedback regularly. Push changes up to a shared location and invite feedback at regular, predetermined intervals. That way, if the project is not delivering what the client has envisaged, there is time to change course without incurring massive cost and time penalties.

  • +1 & accepted for the first paragraph and the advice on managing possible changes. Thanks – laconbass Jun 6 '13 at 14:51
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As an organization development professional, I take the view that scrum agile is a project management tool that is very lightweight and flexible for small teams. For a freelancer, the use of planning poker, concept of story points, and daily stand ups with the product owner are essential tools in the communication of expected functions and features within budget and on time. I would urge you to go to YouTube and do some search on scrum methodology. Search for keywords scrum and tutorial to get up to speed. Visit Scrum Alliance for more information.

  • Thank you for your answer. I will research about planning poker and the concept of story points. About Scrum, I've already researched about it, the conclusion I present on the question is derived, in fact, from this research I did. I will share my thoughts after researching more, thanks again :D – laconbass Apr 8 '14 at 16:20

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