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TIP OF THE WEEK

If you are working as a vendor of project services to an external customer, and have a legal contract in place, you may need to pay special attention to aspects of scope management. On agile projects, we commonly manage scope change via the "Product Backlog" (from the Scrum method) or via similar means. This allows us to be very flexible and responsive, and where you have a good working relationship with a customer, the Product Backlog may be enough to manage your risk of scope creep.

In many situations, however, you will need a more formal document to protect yourself from later claims of not delivering what was in the contract. While the form of this protection will vary depending upon your base contract type, here is a common approach that will work in many situations:

  • Still maintain your Product Backlog as your master scope document
  • At the start of each iteration, when you have reprioritized the backlog with your customer, and have identified the next items the team will be working on, prepare a simple change authorization form.
  • The change authorization form will simply state the work that you will be working on in the upcoming iteration.
  • The contents of the change authorization will vary depending upon the format of your base contract. It may include references to approved (signed) user stories, initial complexity estimates (in points), and even a copy of the reprioritized backlog or rebuilt release plan.
  • Getting this change authorization form may provide adequate protection in the case of later claims of contractual non-compliance.