How to Assess and Integrate Product Changes in an Agile Project

By Mark C. Layton

Welcoming change in an agile project helps you create the best product possible. However, integrating new requirements or suggestions means evaluating and prioritizing those requirements and updating the product backlog, a complete list of all known scope for the product. Because you receive suggestions for product changes throughout an agile project, you need to determine which changes are valid and manage the updates:

  1. Assess whether the new requirement should be part of the project, the release, or the sprint by asking some key questions:

    1. a.Does the new requirement support the product vision statement?

      If yes, add the requirement to the product backlog and product roadmap.

      If no, the requirement shouldn’t be part of the project. It may be a good candidate for a separate project.

    2. b.Does the new requirement support the current release goal?

      If yes, the requirement is a candidate for the current release plan.

      If no, leave the requirement on the product backlog for a future release.

    3. c.Does the new requirement support the current sprint goal?

      If yes, and the sprint has not started, the requirement is a candidate for the current sprint backlog.

      If no, leave the requirement on the product backlog for a future sprint.

  2. Have the development team estimate the effort for the new requirement.

  3. 3.Prioritize the requirement against other requirements in the product backlog and add the new requirement to the product backlog, in order of priority, taking into account:

    1. The product owner knows the most about the product’s business needs and how important the new requirement may be in relation to other requirements. The product owner may also reach out to project stakeholders for additional insight to a requirement’s priority.

    2. The development team may also have technical insight about a new requirement’s priority. For example, if Requirement A and Requirement B have equal business value, but you need to complete Requirement B for Requirement A to be feasible, the development team needs to alert the product owner.

    3. Although the development team and project stakeholders can provide information to help prioritize a requirement, determining priority is ultimately the product owner’s job.

    4. Adding new requirements to the product backlog may mean moving other requirements down the list in the product backlog.

Do not add new requirements to sprints already in progress unless the development team requests them.