How do you handle changes in requirements within an Agile development environment?
Changing requirements can have a large impact on many aspects of a software project. Key aspects that impact overall business are time and cost. These have high-level impacts on the business. But, there are several factors that can impact a business at a lower level. These are in the form of extra use of resources, changes in the way the existing solution or requirement is analyzed as well as changes to the QA process. But this can also affect those requirements of the project which are indirectly related to the development of the software. These factors are often overlooked and can affect how you analyze the requirements of the project itself, ultimately affecting the code itself.
Such challenges can be avoided by effective Agile change management methodologies. So in this blog, I am going to discuss all the different ways Agile can help in managing continuously changing requirements.
The 4 ways Agile change management methodologies can be used to manage changing requirements:
1. Involve the Customer Throughout the Development Process
Allow your customer to provide inputs during the initial stages when identifying requirements, during implementation, and towards the end of the project. There is a possibility that the customer may change requirements during every interaction.
To handle these changes, we can manage the delivery of the software being worked on with the help of two-week sprints. This has 4 advantage:
A. Customer’s feature requirements can be identified sooner
B. The overall scope of the project can be controlled better:
- since the customer can alter requirements,
- rethink requirements at the feature level, or
- shift requirements during the development process
C. Reduce time spent on planning and impact analysis and make room for the project team to take more risks. This gives the team some space to offer innovative solutions since the team members can make alterations based on customer requests in an agile environment.
D. Spend less time and effort (implementation, design, and testing) accommodating customer changes when compared to following old school practices of software development (waterfall or Iterative).
2. Design a Product Backlog that can Accommodate Changes
A product backlog should be designed such that it can accommodate changes a customer may want, while still being aligned with the high-level priorities of a customer’s business.
The product backlog sets the priorities for the development team. It helps the team understand what needs to be delivered first. Getting team members and the customer involved helps prioritize development tasks involved in each sprint better.
3. Involve Your Client During the Daily Standup Meeting
A daily standup meeting offers yet another opportunity for managing frequent changes in requirements. These are meetings where team members talk about the tasks they have completed the previous day, the issues they faced, and the task they intend to complete on that day. Involving the Client or customer in these meetings is beneficial to the team. Any changes the client comes up with can be discussed immediately. So a change in the requirements, the effect of the change on the overall scope, timeframe, any extra effort required and overall project schedule can be discussed in these meetings at a higher level and agreed upon quickly.
4. Use Agile Task Boards for Superior Project Tracking
Agile task boards help categorize different development tasks into various categories:
B. In Progress
C. In Testing
This categorization of development tasks gives team members a clear view of where they stand in terms of their progress, and which areas of the project need their attention. There are 3 ways an agile task board can help manage a change or changes in requirements:
- Have clear visibility about the current implementation status of the project and identify how these changes will impact tasks that are pending.
- Clearly Identify project requirements that are impacted by changing requirements.
- Keep all team members on the same page with the help of threaded comments. Any changing requirements before and during the sprint can be clearly viewed on the task board with the help of these comments.
Changing requirements are and always will be a big challenge for software project teams. The risks involved are too high. Some of the Agile methodologies we have discussed today will help them mitigate the risks involved. It will also help them effectively manage changing requirements of their software project and deliver the project based on the customer’s business needs.
Author — Vivek Koul, DLT Labs™
About the Author: Vivek Koul is a dedicated team member with extensive experience in business analysis working on a variety of cross-functional tasks. Be it client engagements, technical specification drafting or project management activities, through his experience of having worked in multiple countries, he has always tried to pounder invaluable learning and skills within the workspace of DLT Labs environment so as to deliver the best for the future of the organization. His skills include bridging the gaps between the clients and the vendors. He has initiated projects right from requirement elicitation, design to production.