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Scope change management

Scope Change Management in Agile BVOP projects

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Scope Change Management in Agile BVOP projects

The following article is part of the self-preparation for the modern BVOP® Project Management Certification program.

This chapter explains the concept of Scope change management in the context of BVOP.

  1. What is Scope change management?
  2. What is Scope? Reminder
  3. Who manages the scope of the project?
  4. How is the scope of the project managed?
  5. How is scope managed in Scrum (an Agile framework)?
  6. Agile Scope Change Management
  7.  Assessing the requesting party
  8. Assessing the importance of the change request
  9. Assessing the impact on the project
  10. Documenting the change request
  11. Approval or denial of the change request
  12. Planning for implementation
  13. Communicating the plan with the requesting party
  14. Implementation
  15. Validation

What is Scope change management?

In the previous chapter, we explained what Scope Management is and stated that it is the management of incoming wishes for project changes. Most often, the desire for change comes from the stakeholders.

What is Scope? Reminder

The scope is simply a description of a project or product that needs to be developed or created. The overall vision and description of the end result are regulated in the early stages of the project. When work on the project starts and in the later stages clients or different participants in the project require changes, the scope of the project serves as a reference and a reminder of the contracted work.

Who manages the scope of the project?

The project scope is most often managed by project managers, but often program managers, project directors, and project sponsors have the final say. In Scrum practices, the scope of the project concerns only one sprint. The Scrum Master role and the Development team should protect the scope of the sprint by avoiding adding new product backlog items to their work for the period.

How is the scope of the project managed?

In the previous chapter, we described the change management process and the scope of the project. This model applies to classic waterfall project management and development practices.

How is scope managed in Scrum (an Agile framework)?

Scrum sprints involve some planned work. The Development Team and the Product Owner role have defined the work that can be produced during the sprint. After the start of the sprint, Scrum expresses the rule not to add more work for the current period. Because the Development Team can't always stop the stakeholders and the Product Owner role from wanting extra work to be developed, the Scrum Master role reminds the rules and opposes adding more work to the Sprint Backlog.

BVOP has created a new Agile role in the face of the Agile Director who is a senior management representative. As the Agile Director is a senior management representative of the participants in the project, he/she has the authority to defend the scope with greater force.

Agile Scope Change Management

In the previous chapter, we mentioned that BVOP changed the understanding of the scope of the project and recommended that the scope should not be considered a static and fixed contractual form. In this section, we explain this idea in more detail and explain how to manage flexible scope in Agile projects.

About this chapter

This chapter is part of the BVOP Project and Program Management Certification program guide.

Fast and on-time realization of projects depends on the stable and non-variable scope. Classic project management understandings teach that the scope of the projects should not be changed once it is defined, or the scope should accept minimum modifications. Changes in scope are often related to causing delays, re-work, and a waste of resources.

Under real-world conditions, the scope of projects usually changes after its initial definition and approval. The frequency of modifications may depend on factors such as changes in user and business needs, technical feasibility, and other topics described in the Business Value-Oriented Program Management section.

Changes in the scope of the project are generally considered to be important, especially in dynamic, innovative, and complex products where real users and stakeholders provide frequent feedback on early versions of the product.

The following practices may be applied to minimize the damage of future scope changes:

  • Initial detailing of needs
  • Creating and evaluating sketches, diagrams, prototypes and other materials that may represent the expected product clearly
  • Assessing the emerging changes of the scope, so project teams are focused on the high-prioritized change
  • Ignoring changes if they are not critical for the project

The low frequency of the project’s scope change may depend on factors such as:

  • Defined clear goals
  • Understanding and applying prioritization practices
  • Understanding of Minimum viable product principles
  • Dedicated stakeholders
  • Competencies and skills
  • Mature management roles

Changes in project scope should not always be considered as negative events. When an early version of a product is released to real users, valuable feedback about the business value of the released version may be provided by the users. 

The current version may not cover usability and accessibility levels or it might have gaps in important functionalities, which could have been developed in a way different from the users' expectations. The current version of the product can be a source of new ideas and needs for the users.

Any requested changes to the scope of the project may be processed by following the steps below:

  • Assessing the requesting party
  • Assessing the importance of the change request
  • Assessing the impact on the project
  • Documenting the change request
  • Approval or denial of the change request
  • Planning for implementation
  • Communicating the plan with the requesting party
  • Implementation
  • Validation

 Assessing the requesting party

The requesting parties may be from different departments, stakeholders representatives, or organizations. 

Assessing the importance of the change request

Understanding the importance of the request is a needed step in order to process the change request. If it is not assessed as important, its processing may be delayed.

Answering basic questions at this stage may be helpful for assessing the importance of the change request such as:

  • Who needs this change?
  • Will this change affect the product or project positively?
  • When does this change need to be fulfilled?
  • What are the expected results if this change is not implemented in the project?
  • Have the project participants been informed of this change request and its expected results?

Assessing the impact on the project

If the change is expected to impact general project parameters negatively, although it is important, the request for change can be discussed with program managers, project sponsors, and eventually rejected. If the impact is assessed as positive, the change may be approved as usual.

Problems that may occur after a change in the project parameters:

  • Technical or development complication
  • Negatively affecting other unexpected parameters as usability, product features, marketing, and sales strategies
  • Negative feedback from other customers, users, and parties
  • Increased cost and project completion time

The competence, experience, and skills of the project management roles may affect the needed time for assessing the change request.

Documenting the change request

Documenting the change request may be formal or informal practice based on organizational needs.

Maintaining a register of all requests may be a valuable source of information, needs, and requirements at later stages or for other and future projects of the organization.

Each registered request item may contain:

  • The requested party (Name, team or department)
  • Contact details for future communication
  • Answers to the questions introduced in “Assessing the importance of the change request” step

Approval or denial of the change request

Actual formal approval or denial of the change request may be needed based on the organizational practices.

The BVOP suggests that if the organization has formal approval or denial process, the time needed for the decision need to be minimized.

Planning for implementation

Planning may include when exactly the change can be integrated, by which team and with what resources. Other change requests, project tasks already planned, and resources are considered. Adaptation of the current project plans may be needed.

Communicating the plan with the requesting party

Communicating the plan back to the requesting party may be needed, and feedback to be expected.

Implementation

The actual implementation of the change.

Validation

The outcome of the implemented change needs to be validated and agreed upon as satisfactory.

Stakeholders, project team members, and other parties may participate together in prioritization, estimation, and planning of the changes.

The following issues related to chapter "Scope change management" are included in the certification exam. The sequence of questions is presented in the table.
The data is current as of September 25, 2020, 12:39 pm

ID Issue Time Category
0  Assessing the requesting party 60 sec PM, PDM
1 Agile Scope Change Management 60 sec PM, PDM
2 Who manages the scope of the project? 60 sec PM, PDM
3 What is Scope? Reminder 60 sec PM, PDM
4 Communicating the plan with the requesting party 60 sec PM, PDM
5 Planning for implementation 60 sec PM, PDM
6 How is the scope of the project managed? 60 sec PM, PDM
7 Assessing the importance of the change request 60 sec PM, PDM
8 Validation 60 sec PM, PDM
9 Implementation 60 sec PM, PDM
10 What is Scope change management? 60 sec PM, PDM
11 Assessing the impact on the project 60 sec PM, PDM
12 Approval or denial of the change request 60 sec PM, PDM
13 Documenting the change request 60 sec PM, PDM
14 How is scope managed in Scrum (an Agile framework)? 60 sec PM, PDM
Comments of our guests
  1. Laurence Mcdonald
    Hi everyone, Is the Scope change management applicable in both Agile and Waterfall practices. As far as I know, in Scrum, there is no such thing as change management at all. In what cases should we apply it? Thanks
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