This Month’s Pattern *

78 Seasons for Change

Windows of opportunity for scope changes are opened at specific times throughout the project, typically aligned with the boundaries of development iterations.

Software development projects present us with a stream of choices to make. Some choices are fundamental, while others have only a limited effect. Of the former, one of the most influential decisions we make during development defines the scope: What is in and what is not.

The determination of a project’s scope has a catch-22 characteristic: You need to get it right as early as possible, but you almost always need to adjust it as you go. Ultimately, since you want to complete the work, your tolerance for scope changes must gradually diminish, as depicted here:

If you interpret this picture literally, you may infer that scope changes happen continuously, throughout the project. While that could happen, most project managers realize that it’s impractical to entertain every scope change as it arises. Why? Because scope changes are disruptive. They can have a profound effect on what people do day-to-day. People reassess what they’re doing, in light of the change, and that slows down the project.

To balance the need to refine the scope with the need to maintain forward momentum, many teams divide development projects into short iterations, each with restrictions on scope changes. The initial scope definition is used for the first iteration, and it cannot be changed until the iteration is complete. Meanwhile, those planning the second iteration may consider scope changes. But during each iteration, developers and others on the team are not disrupted. It looks like this: 

It’s worth mentioning that this approach only works well if iterations are kept relatively short. Deferring all scope changes during longer iterations—say, twelve weeks long—is not always wise, and sometimes not even possible. Iterations of two-to-six weeks seem to minimize disruptions from scope changes without stifling the evolution of the project itself.



* Each month we plan to publish here one of the patterns from our Jolt Award book, Adrenaline Junkies and Template Zombies — Understanding Patterns of Project Behavior. (Watch this space for a mere 86 months and you'll have read the whole thing.) The book is published by Dorset House Publishing, in the US and Hanser Verlag in Germany. It is available at Amazon and also as a Kindle book.

events

London, Mastering Business Analysis
28-Mar-2017 to 29-Mar-2017

James Archer presents Mastering Business Analysis. Please contact IRM UK for details and registration.

Rome, Mastering the Requirements Process
3-Apr-2017 to 5-Apr-2017

Rome, Mastering Business Analysis
6-Apr-2017 to 7-Apr-2017

James Robertson teaches Mastering Business Analysis. Contact Technology Transfer for details of this course.  

Hilversum, Mastering Business Analysis
10-Apr-2017 to 11-Apr-2017

James Archer teaches the popular Mastering Business Analysis. Details from Adept Events in English or Dutch.

Stockholm, Mastering the Requirements Process
9-May-2017 to 11-May-2017

Brussels, Mastering the Requirements Process
13-Jun-2017 to 15-Jun-2017

James Robertson teaches Mastering the Requirements Process. Please contact I.T.Works for details. 

Hilversum, Mastering the Requirements Process
13-Jun-2017 to 15-Jun-2017

James Archer presents Mastering the Requirements Process for Adept Events. Details and registration: English - Dutch.

Oslo, Mastering the Requirements Process
12-Sep-2017 to 14-Sep-2017

Mastering the Requirements Process with Suzanne Robertson. Contact Den Norske Dataforeignen for details. 

Brussels, Mastering Business Analysis
13-Sep-2017 to 14-Sep-2017

James Archer teaches Mastering Business Analysis. Contact IT Works for details of this course.  

Stockholm, Mastering the Requirements Process
26-Sep-2017 to 28-Sep-2017

Brussels, Mastering the Requirements Process
10-Oct-2017 to 12-Oct-2017

James Robertson teaches Mastering the Requirements Process. Please contact I.T.Works for details.  

Brussels, MRP part 2
11-Oct-2017 to 12-Oct-2017

Rome, Mastering the Requirements Process
16-Oct-2017 to 18-Oct-2017

Rome, Mastering Business Analysis
19-Oct-2017 to 20-Oct-2017

James Robertson teaches Mastering Business Analysis. Contact Technology Transfer for details of this course.  

Oslo, Mastering the Requirements Process
6-Nov-2017 to 8-Nov-2017

Mastering the Requirements Process with Suzanne Robertson. Contact Den Norske Dataforeignen for details. 

Hilversum, Mastering the Requirements Process
7-Nov-2017 to 9-Nov-2017

James Archer teaches Mastering the Requirements Process. For details please contact Adept Events. Dutch description, or in English.

Oslo, Mastering the Requirements Process part 2
9-Nov-2017 to 10-Nov-2017

Suzanne Robertson teaches Mastering the Requirements Process part 2. Details for this advanced class at Den Norske Dataforeningen.

London, Mastering the Requirements Process
14-Nov-2017 to 16-Nov-2017

James Archer teaches Mastering the Requirements Process. For details and registration, please contact IRM UK.

in depth

Business analysis is often seen as a technical skill. But the business analyst has another set of responsibilities -- to dig into what the stakeholder's mind and uncover what is really needed, and not just what they say they want. 


A Ruby Beam of Light, Book I of Tom DeMarco's Andronescu's Paradox saga is now available in English in paperback and ebook, from Double Dragon Publishing.

"This war isn't going to blow anything up, only turn everything off."



Suzanne and James Robertson's "Requirements: The Masterclass LiveLessons-Traditional, Agile, Outsourcing". 15+ Hours of Video Instruction. 



Als auf der Welt das Licht Ausging, the German edition of Tom DeMarco's science fiction epic, Andronescu's Paradox, has now been published by Hanser Verlag in Munich.  Translation by Andreas Brandhorst.



James Robertson’s webinar for Software Education explains how agile stories are best used to ensure the right solution. Writing the Right Agile Stories on YouTube. Download the webinar slides.