Project Management

What About Sprint Creep?

Bart has been in ecommerce for over 20 years, and can't imagine a better job to have. He is interested in all things agile, or anything new to learn.

A lot of professional wisdom tells a project manager to try to avoid requirements changes, new requests and other additions to an ongoing project—all common occurrences commonly known as “scope creep.” Indeed, scope creep is often considered a major risk to a project, and appears in widely circulated reports of reasons why projects don’t succeed. If a project manager isn’t cautious, requirements can multiply, causing delay after delay in delivery, sometimes to the point where the project or product winds up vastly over schedule, over budget, or even being cancelled.

Yes, scope creep can be a killer of projects where timelines are established at the beginning, or budgets or resources are fixed. However, it should not be a problem for projects operating with agile principles.

In agile circles, scope creep is sometimes called “sprint creep”—new tasks are inserted into an already planned sprint, or existing tasks are given expanded requirements. Project leaders who are committed to protecting their teams and projects against scope creep are often resistant to these kinds of changes. They set up a change control process or simply don’t allow alterations to stories or tasks that have been committed or accepted.

While this approach is sometimes necessary in a non-agile project, it is misguided for a team working in an agile manner. Rather than resisting change, an agile team …

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