How is Change management embedded into the Scrum Framework?

June 9, 2014
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How is Change management embedded into the Scrum Framework?

Depending on the industry and type of project, the priority of features and requirements for a

project may remain fixed for significant durations of time, or they may change frequently. If project

requirements are generally stable, there are typically only minor changes made to the Prioritized

Product Backlog throughout development, and Scrum Teams can work sequentially completing

requirements that will provide maximum customer value as prioritized in the Prioritized Product

Backlog. The length of the Sprint is usually longer, 4 to 6 weeks, in such stable environments.

If project requirements change throughout the project, for example due to changed business

requirements, the same method continues to be effective. Before beginning a Sprint—during the

Create Prioritized Product Backlog or Groom Prioritized Product Backlog processes—the highest

priority requirements in the Prioritized Product Backlog are typically selected to be completed in

that Sprint. Because changes have been accounted for in the Prioritized Product Backlog, the team

only needs to determine how many tasks they can accomplish in the Sprint based on time and

resources provided. Change management is executed in the ongoing processes of prioritizing and

adding tasks to the Prioritized Product Backlog.

If there is a Change Request that may have significant impact on a Sprint in progress, the Product

Owner, after consultation with relevant stakeholders, decides whether the change can wait until

the next Sprint or represents an urgent situation which may require ending the current Sprint and

starting a new one.

Scrum framework clearly specifies that the scope of a Sprint cannot be changed once the Sprint

begins. If the required change is so important that the results of the Sprint would be worthless

without it, then the Sprint should be terminated. If not, then the change is incorporated into a later

Sprint.

There is only one exception to this rule about not changing the scope of a Sprint once a Sprint

begins. If the Scrum Team determines it has heavily overestimated the effort during the Sprint and

has spare capacity to implement additional User Stories, the team can ask the Product Owner which

additional User Stories should be included in the current Sprint.

By locking down the scope of every Sprint, the team is able to efficiently optimize and manage their

work and effort. An additional benefit is that the team does not have to worry about managing

changes once they start working on a Sprint. This is a big advantage of the Scrum framework when

compared to traditional project management.

Because changes are not allowed during a Sprint, the impact and frequency of expected changes

may have an impact on the decision related to the length of the Sprint when it is determined during

the Conduct Release Planning process.

If project requirements are generally stable and major changes are not expected in the near future,

the Length of a Sprint may be set to be longer, 4 to 6 weeks. This provides stability to the Scrum

Team members to work on the Prioritized Product Backlog requirements for lengthy periods of time

without having to go through the Create User Stories, Approve, Estimate and Commit User Stories,

Create Tasks, Estimate Task, and other related processes that are conducted for every Sprint.

However, if project requirements are not very well defined or if significant changes are expected

in the immediate future, the Length of Sprint may be relatively shorter, 1 to 3 weeks. This provides

stability to the Scrum Team members to work on shorter Sprints and deliver results, which can

be evaluated by the Product Owner and stakeholders at the end of the Sprint. This also provides

enough flexibility for them to clarify requirements and make changes to the Prioritized Product

Backlog at the end of each Sprint.

To get maximum benefits from a Scrum project, it is always recommended to keep the Sprint Time-
boxed to 4 weeks, unless there are projects with very stable requirements, where Sprints can extend

up to 6 weeks.

A typical Prioritized Product Backlog will contain all User Stories, their time estimates (including any

revised estimates), and the status of higher priority requirements. Any new or revised User Stories

resulting from changes to business requirements, customer requests, external market conditions,

and/or lessons learned from previous Sprints are also incorporated.

One of the Product Owner’s key responsibilities is grooming the Prioritized Product Backlog. To

ensure the prioritized requirements in the Prioritized Product Backlog to be included in the next

two to three Sprints are refined into suitable User Stories, it is recommended that the Product

Owner should spend a significant amount of the time in each Sprint for Prioritized Product Backlog

grooming. The Product Owner is responsible for adding and revising Prioritized Product Backlog

Items in response to any changes and is responsible for providing more detailed User Stories that

will be used for the next Sprint.

Grooming helps ensure that refining of requirements and their User Stories is done well in advance

of the Sprint Planning Meeting so that the team has a well-analyzed and clearly defined set of

stories that can be easily broken down into tasks and subsequently estimated. Grooming supports

and enhances the flexibility of the Scrum model by incorporating the latest business and technical

insights into future Sprints.

The Product Owner takes the lead in a Product Backlog Review Meeting which is conducted during

Groom Prioritized Product Backlog process.

Although the Stakeholder(s) and the Product Owner have the final say on Prioritized Product

Backlog Items and whether to accept or reject any Change Requests presented during Demonstrate

and Validate Sprint, it is the Scrum Master’s responsibility to ensure that the requirements and

Acceptance Criteria are not altered during the Sprint Review Meeting for the User Stories completed

in the current Sprint. This prevents the rejection of completed User Stories based on the fact that

they do not meet newly changed requirements. If any requirements need to be changed, any

corresponding PBI needs to be revised to accommodate the modified requirements in a future

Sprint.

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