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Agile Change Management

08 Aug 2012

| Author: Rob Smith

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Agile Change Management

In my recent post regarding Agile Planning, I made the comment that “change management and reporting should be at a strategic level”, which was subsequently challenged in a reader’s comment “[I don’t think this statement] is valid in an Agile context”. I believe the statement to be valid (I made it) and I’ll explain why.

Good governance requires two roles, the Steering Role (typically multi-level) and the Delivery Role (the project team). The Delivery Role delivers the change and provides knowledge, awareness and options, while the Steering Role either ratifies decisions taken or, where necessary, takes decisions for implementation by the team. This should be seen as a collaborative and mutually beneficial process where all parties are striving to deliver to the same objectives.

It is a common mistake to assume that the only boundary of governance is between the development team and “the business”. There may be situations where the Product Owner has total ownership of the objectives and the solution, but more generally the Product Owner has delegated authority and should therefore be considered part of the Delivery Team, not part of the Steering Role. As such it is necessary to communicate significant change to the Steering Role.

For example, a finance company plans to launch a new product aimed at a broad demographic. During implementation, the Product Owner (or group) will make a host of unplanned changes to the supporting systems, marketing, resourcing etc., in order to optimally meet the objectives. One of the great benefits of Agile is that this process is achieved through collaboration rather than negotiation and therefore need not be subject to change control at a detailed level.

However, if in order to achieve a milestone and early ROI the demographic group is restricted (which may well be valid), this will have an impact on the strategic change and therefore must be subject to change control and exposed to the Steering Role.

Looking at it another way, if you’re at executive level in the Steering Role, you would want to know about any significant changes, and where necessary you would demand a degree of input and control.

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Author

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Rob Smith

Joint founder of IndigoBlue in July 2002, Rob has over 20 years’ experience in IT, and in addition to leading the company he continues to provide strategic management consultancy to a number of clients.

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