Emerging Requirements – What to do with them?

Agile methods recognize the concept of emerging requirements.  Those are requirements that are not known at the beginning of the project.  In contrast, traditional Project Management tries to minimize emerging requirements, and some PMO’s frown on these emerging requirements because it troughs off resource forecasts.

Emerging requirements

I was the project manager of a traditional project.  We went through the planning and started down the development of the work needed to complete the scope.  Well the inevitable happened.  The customer came back to me and said they wanted to add some critical functionality to the project that was just discovered. The only problem was that it was not in the “Scope”.  In Traditional Project Management, a Change Order is needed. The scope is re written, the document needs to be signed, and work has stopped until this is complete.  The customer was unhappy that the project could not handle the additional work. The project manager could not help the customer unless there was more resources.  The work was finally completed but only in a new project.  This emerging requirements disrupted the flow of the project.

Now as an Agile Project, the new requirement that the customer brought to the project owner can now be added to theProduct Backlog and prioritized with the rest of the stories that need to be worked on for the project.  The customer has added scope to the project, the project team is still working, and the Product Owner and ScrumMaster work together to deliver the most valuable deliverables.  Instead of the money being the top priority, the scope is the top priority in an agile project.

So what type of projects are good for Agile?  Complex projects.  When Technology Risk is medium to high and when requirements risk is medium to high.  Those type of projects are great candidates for Agile.


Take those emerging requirements and fold them into the project, with a well written SOW that states that this will be an agile project, new requirements can bee accepted and prioritized for delivery with ease.

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