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SCS Solutions, founded in 2019, is a global software development company with a team of over 100 IT experts. Leveraging 20+ years in software development and 30+ years in Supply Chain and Logistics, we offer tailored, innovative solutions for diverse business needs worldwide.
About us
SCS Solutions, founded in 2019, is a global software development company with a team of over 100 IT experts. Leveraging 20+ years in software development and 30+ years in Supply Chain and Logistics, we offer tailored, innovative solutions for diverse business needs worldwide.

Fixity or Flexibility? What is your choice for a software development project?

After our company has utilized the "fixed time, fixed scope" model to collaborate on numerous projects with partners, we've encountered several limitations and challenges. This experience has led us to question whether there might be a better approach to project collaboration. Is there an alternative model that could offer greater flexibility and efficiency to a start-up founder or a tech company executive, understanding these models? In this blog, we'll explore another promising option, the "time and material" model and discuss how it might provide a more adaptable and effective way to manage projects. Whether you can help you make better decisions for your project's success.

1. What is "fixed time, fixed scope"?

The "fixed time, fixed scope" model is a popular choice for many companies aiming to keep projects within a predefined set of deliverables and a strict timeline. This approach involves agreeing on specific project deliverables and a set deadline before the work begins. The goal is to provide clear expectations, manage budgets effectively, and ensure that all stakeholders are aligned from the start.

Consider a start-up developing a mobile app using the " fixed time, fixed scope" model. At the beginning of the project, they outline all features, design elements, and functionalities in detail. They establish a comprehensive project plan, which includes a 6-month timeline for completion. The budget is then calculated based on these predefined parameters, covering development costs, resources, and potential contingencies.

By defining everything upfront, the start-up aims to maintain control over the project's direction and ensure it stays within the agreed budget and timeframe. This approach can be beneficial in providing a clear roadmap and structured progress milestones. However, it also requires thorough initial planning and a commitment to the predefined scope and timeline, which can be challenging if unexpected changes or new requirements emerge during the project. 

fixed time fixed scope model in technology

1.1 Why does biz still stick to "fixed time, fixed scope"?

1.1.1 Clear expectations

Defined Deliverables: The project’s scope is clearly outlined from the beginning, ensuring all stakeholders are on the same page. For instance, a website redesign project with a fixed scope will have a detailed list of pages, functionalities, and design elements agreed upon before starting.

Specific Deadlines: A set timeline helps manage progress and ensures that everyone works towards the same end date. For example, a marketing campaign launch timed with a major event can benefit from fixed deadlines to ensure everything is ready on time.

1.1.2 Budget control

Predictable Costs: With a predefined scope, the budget is determined upfront, reducing financial uncertainty. This is particularly beneficial for start-ups with tight budgets. An example is a small business launching an e-commerce site with a fixed budget, knowing exactly what features they can afford.

1.2 But it might be not the best option because of these reasons

While the " fixed time, fixed scope" model can provide structure and predictability, it also comes with several notable disadvantages that can impact the success and morale of a project team. Here are the key challenges:

1.2.1 Moving the deadline

Unexpected challenges often arise during a project, such as technical difficulties, unanticipated resource constraints, or changes in stakeholder requirements. These unforeseen issues can force the project team to extend the timeline beyond the original deadline.

1.2.2 Reducing scope

To adhere to the strict deadline, project teams may need to cut back on features and functionality originally planned. This compromise can result in a product that falls short of initial expectations and market demands.

1.2.3 Running with rush deadline and burnout

To meet the fixed deadline without reducing scope, teams might resort to working excessive hours. This "crunch mode" often leads to burnout, decreased productivity, and high turnover rates as employees seek healthier work environments.

The challenges associated with the " fixed time, fixed scope" model underscore the need for a more flexible and sustainable approach to project management. Rigid timelines can lead to significant delays when unforeseen challenges arise, emphasizing the importance of allowing flexibility in project schedules. Furthermore, cutting features to meet strict deadlines often compromises the final product's quality and market competitiveness. It's crucial to prioritize delivering essential functionalities, even if it means extending timelines or adjusting scope, to achieve a more successful and satisfying product. Additionally, pushing teams into excessive overtime to meet fixed deadlines can result in burnout and high turnover rates, ultimately harming both the project and the organization. Finally, it’s a failure to truly understand the nature and power of modern product development. 

Running with rush deadline and burnout in tech tasks

2. What is the time and material model?

The time and material model offers a different approach, focusing on flexibility and adaptability. This model changes based on the actual time and resources spent on the project, allowing for changes and iterations as the project progresses.

2.1 Flexibility

Adaptability to Changes: Unlike fixed models, the time and material approach allows the project to adapt as new information and requirements emerge. This means that if market demands shift or new technological advancements are discovered, the project can pivot accordingly.

Iterative Development: This model supports iterative development, where the product is continuously improved through successive refinements. Each iteration can incorporate feedback from stakeholders, ensuring that the final product is well-aligned with market needs and expectations.

2.2 Transparency

Clear Visibility: The time and material model provides stakeholders with clear visibility into the ongoing work and resource allocation. Detailed reports and regular updates keep everyone informed about the project's progress, budget, and any emerging challenges.

Continuous Communication: This model fosters a culture of ongoing dialogue between the project team and stakeholders. Regular check-ins and updates ensure that everyone remains aligned, promoting collaboration and swift decision-making.

2.3. Risk management

Early Issue Identification: One of the strengths of the time and material model is the ability to identify potential problems early in the project lifecycle. Regular assessments and feedback loops mean issues are spotted and addressed before they become major setbacks.

Smoother Project Flow: By addressing problems early and maintaining flexibility, the project is less likely to experience significant disruptions. This proactive approach ensures a more seamless and efficient process.

Example: During the development of the AI-powered marketing tool, the team identifies a potential issue with the data integration module. Because of the model’s flexibility and regular review meetings, they can quickly allocate additional resources to address the problem, preventing delays and ensuring the project stays on track.

The time and material model’s flexibility, transparency, and proactive risk management make it an attractive choice for projects that need to adapt to changing requirements and environments. By allowing continuous improvement and fostering clear communication, this model ensures that the final product is refined, market-ready, and developed in a sustainable and efficient manner. For start-ups and tech companies, embracing this approach can lead to more successful project outcomes and a better alignment with business goals.

3. When to choose Time and Material model

Choosing the right and flexible project management model is critical for the success of your project. While traditional models like "fixed scope, fixed time" have their place, the modern "time and material" model offers significant advantages, especially in today’s rapidly changing market landscape. Here’s how to determine if the "time and material" model is the right choice for your software development project:

3.1 Embracing flexibility and adaptability

The time and material model is inherently flexible, making it ideal for projects where requirements are likely to change. Unlike fixed scope projects, which are constrained by predefined deliverables and timelines, this model allows for continuous adjustments based on new information and evolving requirements.

Continuous Evolution: Projects can adapt as new insights are gained, ensuring that the final product is relevant and meets current market demands.

Responsive Development: Teams can pivot quickly to address unexpected challenges or capitalize on new opportunities, enhancing the project's effectiveness and relevance.

3.2 Enhancing transparency and communication

Transparency and open communication are at the heart of the "time and material" model. This approach ensures that all stakeholders are kept informed about progress, challenges, and changes, fostering a collaborative environment that leads to better decision-making and outcomes.

Regular Updates: Frequent progress reports and updates keep stakeholders informed, reducing misunderstandings and aligning expectations.

Collaborative Environment: Encourages ongoing dialogue between the project team and stakeholders, leading to more informed and timely decisions. 

Enhancing Transparency and Communication

3.3 Effective risk management

The "time and material" model excels in managing risks by allowing for early identification and mitigation of potential issues. This proactive approach helps prevent significant setbacks and ensures a smoother project flow.

Proactive Issue Resolution: Potential problems can be identified and addressed early, minimizing their impact on the project.

Adaptive Planning: Allows for adjustments to the project plan based on real-time feedback and emerging risks, ensuring the project stays on track.

3.4 Cost efficiency through iterative development

While the "time and material" model may initially seem less predictable in terms of cost, it often proves more efficient in the long run. By enabling iterative development, this approach ensures that resources are allocated effectively, and that each development phase adds value to the final product.

Optimized Resource Use: Resources are used more effectively as the project can be adjusted based on ongoing learnings and feedback.

Value-Driven Development: Focuses on delivering high-value features and improvements incrementally, reducing waste and enhancing the final product.

3.5 Promoting sustainable work practices

A significant advantage of the "time and material" model is its potential to promote healthier, more sustainable work practices. By avoiding the high-pressure, deadline-driven environment of fixed scope projects, this model helps prevent burnout and maintains team morale and productivity over the long term.

Balanced Workloads: Reduces the need for excessive overtime, fostering a more sustainable and productive work environment.

Employee Well-being: Supports better work-life balance, leading to higher job satisfaction and retention rates.

Employee Well-being in technology company

4. Choosing the right tech partner

At SCS Solutions, we understand that every project is unique, and selecting the right project management model is crucial for success. We work closely with our clients to understand their specific needs and challenges, helping them choose the most suitable approach. Whether you are a startup or an established company, we will discuss your project’s scale, timeline, and requirements with you. Let’s build! 

SCS - One-Stop Software Development Powerhouse For Your Digital Transformation Journey!


Jun 5, 2024

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