Initiating Scope Changes in the Adaptive Life Cycle Due to Environmental Factors

  • Project Management
Created on :
June 13, 2023
Saket Bansal
Updated on :
July 3, 2023

The adaptive life cycle, also known as agile or change-driven, is a project management approach where change is anticipated and welcomed. This contrasts with the predictive life cycle, where the project’s scope, time, and cost are determined at the beginning, and any subsequent changes are managed carefully. In the adaptive life cycle, changes can be incorporated into the project due to various reasons, including environmental factors. In this article, we will explore how to initiate any scope change in the adaptive life cycle, particularly due to external environmental factors.

Understanding Adaptive Life Cycle and Scope Changes

Unlike the predictive life cycle, in an adaptive life cycle, there is no locked down scope or baseline scope. Instead, the project team works with high-level ideas that are incorporated into a product backlog, a dynamic document that is continuously updated as requirements change or new requirements emerge.

Technically, in an adaptive life cycle, there isn’t a document called ‘scope document.’ Instead, what we have is a continuous process of review, interaction, and change prioritization, known as backlog refinement or backlog grooming. The backlog serves as a living requirements document rather than a scope document.

Check our detailed blog on Product Backlog

Managing Changes due to Environmental Factors

When changes arise, particularly due to environmental factors, they are presented to the backlog refinement group. This group, usually composed of key stakeholders, reviews the new requirements or changes and decides how to incorporate them into the project.

However, not all changes can be handled at the backlog refinement stage. Some changes may have a significant impact on the overall vision or direction of the product. In such cases, the changes may need to be escalated to a governance group or higher-level stakeholders. It’s crucial to understand that there may be instances where a larger governance group must be consulted to discuss significant changes.

For example, the project might have planned to allocate a team for six months, but due to some environmental factor, it is now necessary to contract a vendor for a year. Such a change may extend beyond the purview of the backlog refinement group and require the involvement of additional stakeholders.

PMP Exam Insights: Handling Changes in an Adaptive Approach

While preparing for your PMP exam, it’s crucial to clearly understand how to manage change scenarios in an adaptive or Agile approach. These scenarios might entail a stakeholder requesting a change or an alteration due to a technical or environmental shift. Here are some essential tips to remember:

  1. Emphasize Value: When dealing with changes, all stakeholders should be guided by the value derived from the modification. The expected benefit from the change should be the focal point for decision-making.
  2. Promote Collaboration: Team and stakeholder collaboration are crucial in an adaptive environment, typically facilitated by the Product Owner. Cultivating a sense of unity aids in addressing and managing changes more effectively.
  3. Empower the Product Owner: In an adaptive approach, the Product Owner should lead change-related discussions. Their insights and expertise can streamline decision-making and ensure changes align with the project’s goals.
  4. Adapt to Change: In adaptive project management, change can occur at any time. The Product Owner should work closely with stakeholders to manage these changes, usually as part of the backlog refinement process.
  5. Embrace Mistakes: The sooner we recognize our errors or incorrect assumptions, the better. Quick identification allows for immediate course correction and mitigates further complications.
  6. Backlog Refinement and Change Control: Most changes should be integrated into the backlog refinement process. However, some may necessitate the change control process. It’s crucial to understand when each method is most appropriate.
  7. Prefer Backlog Refinement over Change Control: If you have the option to incorporate a change in the backlog refinement or the change control process, it’s generally better to opt for the former. This approach often results in more efficient change integration.
  8. Preserve Current Sprint Goal: To maintain focus and productivity, avoid altering the current iteration or sprint goal. Allow the team to complete their agreed-upon tasks before considering new information.
  9. Remember the Agile Values: Agile project management prioritizes delivering value, fostering collaboration, and responding to change. Keep these values in mind while addressing any alterations.


Navigating the adaptive life cycle effectively involves a comprehensive understanding of handling changes, particularly in response to environmental factors. Unlike the predictive life cycle, the adaptive approach embraces change, ensuring continuous review, interaction, and prioritization. The active involvement of key stakeholders, the Product Owner’s leadership, and the timely management of changes play a crucial role in this approach. Furthermore, the preservation of current sprint goals, along with emphasizing value, promoting collaboration, and adhering to Agile values, facilitates optimal project execution.

However, mastering these elements of the adaptive life cycle can be challenging without a solid foundation in project management principles and real-world application. Therefore, we strongly recommend joining our PMP Live Training Program to speed up your preparation and deepen your understanding. 

Name Date Place
PMP Certification and Training 13 June – 12 July 2024 Chennai More Details
PMP Certification and Training 6 July – 4 August 2024 Pune More Details

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