How does Scrum embrace ‘Change’?
The Scrum methodology of product and service development and management understands the
importance Change in the current market. Change is a truth that cannot be overlooked or escaped.
Therefore, the best way to deal with the concept of change is to accept it and adapt accordingly. This
principle is entwined in the very framework of Scrum, as well as in Agile.
Scrum embodies a key principle from the Agile Manifesto (Fowler and Highsmith, 2001):
“Responding to change over following a plan.” Scrum is practiced on the basis of embracing change
and turning it into a competitive advantage. Therefore, it is more important to be flexible than
to follow a strict, predefined plan. This means it is essential to approach project management
in an adaptive manner that enables change throughout rapid product development or service
Being adaptive to change is a key advantage of the Scrum framework. Although Scrum works well for
all projects in all industries, it can be very effective when the product or other project requirements
are not fully understood or cannot be well defined up front, when the product’s market is volatile,
and/or when the focus is on making the team flexible enough to incorporate changing requirements.
Scrum is especially useful for complex projects with a lot of uncertainty. Long-term planning and
forecasting is typically ineffective for such projects and they involve high quantities of risk. Scrum
guides the team through transparency, inspection, and adaptation to the most valuable business
Request for changes are usually submitted as Change Requests. Change Requests remain
unapproved until they get formally approved. The Scrum Guidance Body usually defines a process
for approving and managing changes throughout the organization. In the absence of a formal
process, it is recommended that small changes that do not have significant impact on the project be
directly approved by the Product Owner. The tolerance for such small changes could be defined at
an organizational level or by the sponsor for a particular project. In most projects, 90% of Change
Requests could be classified as small changes that should be approved by the Product Owner. So the
Product Owner plays a very important role in managing changes in a Scrum Project.
Changes that are beyond the tolerance level of the Product Owner may need approval from relevant
stakeholders working with the Product Owner.
At times, if a requested change could have a substantial impact on the project or organization,
approval from senior management (e.g., Executive Sponsor, Portfolio Product Owner, Program
Product Owner, or Chief Product Owner) may be required.
Change Requests for the project are discussed and approved during the Develop Epic(s), Create
Prioritized Product Backlog, and Groom Prioritized Product Backlog processes. Approved Change
Requests are then prioritized along with other product requirements and their respective User
Stories and then incorporated into the Prioritized Product Backlog.