Change Control in an Agile Project – Stakeholders with “Skin in the Game”.

Agile embraces change, as part of an epistemological journey to build what is truly needed for the customer.  As the project team and its customer hit bumps, figures out what works, and what doesn’t, they build the best solution.

This all sounds ideologically perfect, but in the real world every project works within the constraints of time, budget and scope.  Constant change starts to bump into these constraints at every demo, when the project customer says, “that’s great, but…”.  Project Managers wince at this, and in a Waterfall world start to wave formal change control, which can then start to build that “them and us” feeling.  However, in Agile there is a real risk that you keep developing, and evolving requirements, but run out of money, without delivering a workable solution.

The Fast Waterfall Project Management model recommends that budgetary responsibility for those projects in the “Fast Delivery” Lane, utilising Agile Project Management practices, is given over to the project business sponsor, rather than the Project Manager.  This will drive a clearer focus from them and the stakeholders to really think through the requirements early, be engaged, and have “skin in the game” in managing change.

There are also many rapid prototyping tools available to support the engagement and learning fast, along with thoroughly thinking through requirements.  Visual budgetary “burn down” charts will also help the process.   This approach will also drive a discipline in formally managing big changes, through believe it or not the use of a change control process borrowed from the Waterfall methodology, which it is very good at.

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