Agile Contract Manifesto

Agile approaches evolved to manage the risks of solving complex problems with high levels of uncertainty. This requires acceptance that contracts are incomplete and evolve over time.

We are uncovering better ways of aligning contracts with agile collaboration by doing it and helping others to do it. Through our work we have come to value:


Tangible outcomes more than specified deliverables


Clarity and simplicity more than complexity and completeness


Adaptive partnerships more than static relationships


Joint ownership more than risk-driven accountability

That is, while each element on the right is important, we find that emphasizing the elements on the left generally leads to better results.

Principles behind the Agile Contract Manifesto

We observe that these principles are often associated with successful collaboration:


Our highest priority is to create a positive outcome for the ultimate customers and for all contracting parties.


Collaboration is about more than delivery. The contract is part of the process. Agile collaboration is inclusive, starts before the contract is signed, and extends beyond just the delivery of value.


Contract, relationship and governance need to move together. The contract defines the rules of the game. Ensure consistent rules to encourage transparency, integrity, empowerment, autonomy, clarity of purpose, and collaboration.


A successful partnership learns and adapts throughout the life of the engagement. The challenge of developing governance is creating enough control while enabling effective, results-oriented work.


Minimize the effort spent on non-value producing work. Ensure effort and time focused on indirect activities are optimized and in proportion to the productive activity.


Impediments can arise anywhere in a collaboration. A successful result depends on a smooth communication and information flow across boundaries to rapidly identify and respond to issues.


Embed mechanisms to manage risk rather than merely allocate risk. Manage risk through transparency, frequent delivery and fast feedback.


Ensure clarity on needs and available capabilities. Contract for what is really needed and understand what is really being sold.


Continuity and sustainability are essential for long-lived solutions. The team which creates a new solution develops unique knowledge about the product, the technology, risk management, the market, and each other.


A good contract is one that anybody can understand.

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