How does Scrum embrace ‘Change’?

June 9, 2014

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

development cycles.

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.


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