Process +

Agile helps companies gracefully manage change

A valuable aspect of the Agile project methodology is its ability to gracefully manage change. As much as folks don’t like to admit it, we know that project requirements change throughout the life of a project.


Even when much time and effort is put into analysis at the beginning of a project, adjustments in business priority, new products or vendors, revised regulations or missed requirements can all result in changes after development has begun. 

Traditional change management wastes time resisting change

Working on projects within a traditional “waterfall” approach, I have noticed a somewhat punitive attitude toward requirement changes. When a new requirement is discovered, there is hand wringing and time spent asking: “How did this get missed?” or “Why are we just hearing about this now?” After several meetings and various attempts to find answers, the request is then subjected to cumbersome change control and approval processes. Meanwhile, time is ticking away and no work is being done. These unnecessary delays are especially frustrating in cases where the delivery team is ready and willing to implement the change.

Agile embraces change

Agile offers a kinder, softer approach toward change. Rather than expecting the business “ask” to be fully defined up front and then frozen ever after, Agile embraces the changing nature of requirements. It recognizes that project stakeholders cannot know what they don’t know yet. Change is not viewed as a negative, merely reality.

Agile provides a vehicle for easily and quickly submitting new or changed requirements for consideration at any point during a project. This is not to say that Agile projects, particularly those with set delivery dates, can absorb an endless amount of change. Agile provides an elegant way to evaluate changes against remaining project work. If a new requirement is higher priority, it moves to the top of the project’s backlog. This, of course, means that lower priority items may not get delivered. The requirement backlog is constantly being evaluated and adjusted based on current priorities. In the same way, the overall release plan is continually evolving to manage and communicate change.

The Expected Guest

Approaching new requirements in this way changes the dialogue from “How could this happen?” to “How can we get this done?” Project team energy is focused on solutions rather than on perceived problems. Change is treated as an expected guest instead of an unwanted visitor. While stakeholders must consider the impact of requests to the overall release plan, they are not discouraged from introducing changes that are vital to the project’s success.

Related Content

Process + Strategy +

Mike Simon

Beyond textbook: Practical solutions for agile enterprise transformation

by Mike Simon

Finance forms and graphs on desk

Process +

Walter Huresky

Determining Project Cost Performance

by Walter Huresky

Making the Healthcare Insurance Experience Personal


Person walking on stones in a lake

Process +

Murthy Kolipakam

Three Simple Steps to Writing Business Requirements

by Murthy Kolipakam

Abstract image of lines and boxes in 1 point perspective

Process +

Carolyn Ferguson

Traceability Keeps Project Scope + Requirements In Sync

by Carolyn Ferguson

Growing Recycling Company Seeks Sustainable Digital Strategy


Illustration of woman on a conference call

Process +

Jane Amery

10 Tips for Facilitating a Successful Call

by Jane Amery

Illustrated drawing of the William Tell story

Design + Process +

Jim Corcoran

Avoid ready, fire, aim design by applying cross-functional lean UX principles

by Jim Corcoran

Monmouth Logo

Higher Ed Gets New Class of Digital Experience


Design + Strategy +

David Yurkanin

Design Sprints Drive Product Innovation

by David Yurkanin

Illustration of coworkers celebrating

Culture +

William Meyers

We tried to create a place where we actually like to go to work everyday

by William Meyers

AT&T Logo

Helping THE mobility brand move faster


Creative drawings jumping of a digital tablet

Design +

Pradeep Rompicharla

Improving digital experience using the solution studio

by Pradeep Rompicharla

Close up of person on laptop

Analytics + Marketing +

Gordon Forsyth

Before the search: Engaging new customers as their journey begins

by Gordon Forsyth

Weichert Logo

Driving home digital business transformation


Illustration of people connected through digital

Culture +

Alex Shanley

It should be no surprise: The most important thing in digital is people

by Alex Shanley

Flat graphic of dna strands

Design +

Trish Russoniello

Nurturing Design DNA: The Funamentals

by Trish Russoniello