As someone often called upon to be expert witness in court trials and arbitrations about the best practices in agile project management, I\u2019ve been witness to any number of blunders by clients and consulting firms alike. My last column tackled the ways clients can ensure bad, even legal outcomes for their projects.\u00a0\nNow it\u2019s time to shine a spotlight on the worst practices for agile project management consultants.\n10. Use ambiguous wording in the SOW\nYou want to win this thing, don\u2019t you? Euphemisms sell. So itemize things like crazy, using words that sound important but commit you to nothing. Make sure that the wording in the Statement of Work (SOW) can be interpreted at least two ways, using jargon and concepts that are open to debate. Don\u2019t put in \u201cfences\u201d that clearly demarcate \u201cin\u201d versus \u201cout\u201d of scope.\u00a0\n[Related: Top 10 ways to have your project end up in court]\u00a0\n9. Never memorialize phone calls, discussions, meeting topics, conclusions and decisions made with "emails to file"\nEverybody hates to write, so don\u2019t require your team members to document discussions, decisions, provisos or verbal warnings. Agile doesn\u2019t say much about documentation, so just leave the requirements and process details as incomplete spreadsheets and terse story-cards. After all, nobody could possibly misinterpret those two years later in court.\u00a0\n8. Assume that the client understands Agile and inherent risks\nWe\u2019re all in IT here, so of course the client understands the implications of agile work and knows about the risks inherent in their project. Particularly the ones involving interdependencies, integration, data migration and custom coding. Of course they do, even though they\u2019ve never done a cloud or agile project before. So you don\u2019t need to brief the executives about expectations, guide their project lead or add explicit circuit breakers in the project plan.\n7. Let the client blur fixed price and time and materials\u00a0\nThe client needs a fixed price so he can manage to a budget. You need some wiggle room. So you bid time and materials, but end up with time and materials with a budget cap \u2013 the best of both worlds!\u00a0 The client thinks they\u2019re going to get everything they want (without having actually specified any of it in detail), and there\u2019s no chance that you\u2019ve underestimated the effort.\u00a0\n6. Let scope creep\nNow that we\u2019ve got No. 7 under control, we can just let the project boundaries move. We want to be flexible, right? You don\u2019t have to document every change order because this is \u201cjust hours\u201d and this is agile so the customer understands more requests just mean more hours. And you won\u2019t need to notify the client that some of their original features aren\u2019t going to be worked on to make room for their new requirements.\u00a0\n[Related: Top 10 project management certifications]\u00a0\n5. Assume that the client will \u2018understand\u2019\nThe client understands the consequences of their actions, good or bad. They understand the ramifications of their behavior and yours. They understand the consequences of changing architecture mid-project. They\u2019re being reasonable when they refuse to pay for a sandbox. They\u2019re responsible business people, and know what it means when they move deadlines. So they won\u2019t need you to brief them or document the risks and provisos. And you don\u2019t need to ask for deliverable sign-offs at the end of every sprint \u2013 just put that off until the very end so it\u2019ll be quick and easy.\n4. Apologize and make disparaging remarks about your own team in internal emails\nHell, let disparaging remarks go into test results, emails to the client and conversations with third-parties that can later be deposed. Put all the dirty laundry up for show, to demonstrate your candor and high standards. None of this could possibly be misinterpreted by lawyers taking things out of context in court.\n3. Keep project status green until red is unavoidable\nExpect that the client reads, understands and remembers all your status reports and emails. Expect that they\u2019ve been tracking progress against goals versus budget. Expect they understand the repercussions of scope creep, slips and dependencies. Don\u2019t use the yellow status as early warning flag \u2013 it\u2019ll just upset people and cause more meetings. Skip the briefing meetings at 50 percent spend (\u201cmid-course correction\u201d) and 80 percent mark (\u201chow do we bring this one in for a crash landing\u201d). Avoid having meetings about tradeoffs and feature-demotion, because\u2026well\u2026they might yell at us.\n2. Say \u2018we can handle it\u2019 all the time\nUnder-use the word "no," because\u2026well\u2026they might yell at us. Don\u2019t actively manage expectations on deliverables, budget, schedule and usability. Get roped into things that aren\u2019t documented as SOW deliverables. Over-promising is OK because the client will just pay for the extra hours. If they fall behind in payments, assume they just had a slip-up in AP. They\u2019ll get that money to us.\nAnd the #1 way to end up in court...\u00a0\n1. Have a weak contract\nLeave out or negotiate-away things that annoy the client, such as disclaimers for consequential damages, waivers of responsibility for all third party products, waivers of responsibility for third party contractors working on the system, or limitations of liability. Remove \u201couts\u201d if the client modifies your work before accepting it, violates configuration control, or does not use your proscribed deployment practice. Expunge statements regarding client responsibility for all client actions. Remove provisos regarding unexpected bugs in the client\u2019s existing integrations or data. Remove the words \u201cagile\u201d and \u201cestimate\u201d and \u201ctime and materials basis for all tasks and hours worked.\u201d\u00a0 Erase limitations for patent infringement and indemnification \u2013 that could never happen to you!\u00a0\nAll the above may sound like legalisms, but each of them represents a noose. So don\u2019t put your head in there. And if a dispute starts, find a way to settle even if that means you suffer major pain. Read that sentence again. Because undergoing an arbitration or trial will be more pain than you can imagine, even if you win. The proceedings take forever, are an enormously stressful distraction, and cost you billable hours even when you win. If you lose, the legal costs of a \u201cnothing\u201d case will be hundreds of thousands of dollars. And unfortunately, the results are never certain. It\u2019s just a gamble rarely worth taking. And yes, my attorney is yelling at me for writing that.