Change Orders In Scrum?

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Change Orders In Scrum?

Nov 11, 2014 · Posted by Nathan J.

Agile ScrumOne ongoing challenge software development consulting companies face is how to manage a variable scope inherent in an Agile Scrum development project against expectations of managing cost and time.  It certainly goes back to the old adage that we do things three ways – great, fast, and cheap – you can pick two.  If it is great and fast, it will not be cheap.  If it is great and cheap, it will not be fast.  If it is fast and cheap, it will not be great.  Free of course is never an option.

So, how do we deliver a great product with continued input from all stakeholders at a predictable cost?  Now it is easy to say that scrum does not lend to a fixed cost but the reality is everyone works on a limited budget.  At the surface a natural reaction to this conundrum is to design up front and lock in on the scope.  In reality consultants and clients alike do not want to go back down that road to a traditional form of software development – although a blend of up front design and agility during development may well be an option.  The good folks at Cognizant have a really informative whitepaper about how to contract agile projects when cost is fixed.

Scrum

To manage the expected unknowns of a collaborative agile approach we have introduced the use of a contingency log.  A contingency log is a process in traditional construction project management that is used to transparently allow items to move in and out of scope without a formal change order process.  The beauty of the contingency is that it is planned for use ahead of time.  If the contingency is not used it is returned to the client as money not spent.  If the contingency is used during the project the benefit is additional features that otherwise would have moved to future releases or removed all together.

During design, grooming, and planning sessions scope items are moved in/out based on new knowledge of the product and fluctuating business needs.  The contingency log brings tracking of these items to the forefront without stifling the creative process we all strive for.

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