Q&A from our Analysis in Agile: There’s More to it than User Stories webinar.
Scope management in an agile environment occurs in a few different ways. Starting off, it’s very helpful to establish one or two SMART Goals that the project is intended to help the business meet. These become measurable indications of value the team can use to determine if the project is heading in the right direction. By creating decision filters from these goals, the team can easily manage scope by excluding any features or stories that do not lead to direct accomplishment of that goal.
As an example, say you had a goal that stated “By December 31, increase inventory turns from 5/year to 10/year.” Your decision filter for that particular project is simply “Will this help us increase inventory turns?” Then when you are reviewing stories, you run every story up against that decision filter. If you can’t answer “yes” for a given story, don’t do it. Don’t even add it to the Product Backlog. It’s not getting you toward the goal for your project.
Another scope control mechanism is the Iteration Planning meeting (if you are running your project in an iterative fashion). Once the product owner and the delivery team agree to what is included in an iteration, that can’t be changed. The delivery team knows they can focus on those stories for the next 2 weeks without having to worry about someone coming in and making a change.