Scope management is about the why, who, what, how and defining and managing scope throughout the project. How is it performed in agile project management. At the macro level high level scope is defined in the form of a product backlog by the product owner. This product backlog is allowed to grow indefinitely. This may raise many eye brows as scope management among pmbokists is generally considered
as controlling scope and not as facilitating scope. This is a paradigm
shift when someone is transitioning from pmbok or waterfall to agile. Agile is all about partnering with the client to deliver the best for the client. In agile the last thing one may want to do is to deliver a sub optimal product or solution just because some of the vital features are not in the product backlog at the beginning of the project. One of the key aspects of every project as per pmbok is progressive elaboration. That means, when I start a project I have very less information a out the projects scope and as the project progresses we gain more insight into the project. In fact having a product backlog and allowing it to grow freely is just the reinforcement of the progressive elaboration nature of projects. Then, why so much resistance to this idea of keeping the product backlog open throughout the project, especially when someone is transitioning from pmbok or waterfall to agile?
Based on my experience these are the key factors which drives this mental block,
Always we assume that contracts are always fixed price. We assume that even when the scope is changing the value of the contract is non negotiable. This is a very wrong assumption. Application of fixed price contract to any project where requirements are highly volatile is a sure prescription for disaster irrespective of the fact that you are following pmbok or agile. May be a time and material contract with a cap is ideal in such scenarios.
There are a whole lot of contract types like cost reimbursable, time and material, profit sharing etc apart from fixed price and their permutations combinations opens up the door for better partnership with the client which is in the agile manifesto as well as in the professional ethics and social responsibility of a project manager as defined by pmbok.
So, in agile the valid changes to scope are encouraged if it is going to yield better return on investment to the customer and at the same time the supplier need not incur a loss due to it. This is achieved through proper contract type selections and better projections of the cost benefit analysis of the changed scope.