Project Scope Management: Tactics for Modern Challenges

 
Modern Challenges and Methods for Managing Scope

Modern Challenges and Methods for Managing Scope

 

Introduction

Scope is one of the pillars of a successful project.

Our clients have found their own methods and processes for effectively managing project scope. Every organization has its own processes, methods and culture which can affect the management of scope.

We wrote this post to offer a few techniques that we have found to be most effective and helpful for managing scope.

New Challenges in Scope Management

Project Dynamics

Here are a few important changes in the solutions delivery business that you’ve surely noticed.

  • The rate at which we can build solutions has incresded

  • Our solution building tools are more powerful

  • Users are more savvy

We build more impressive solutions quicker and deliver them to users who understand technology, capabilities with increased expectations.

As our capabilities increase, don’t loose sight of fundamental best practices.

Expert Stakeholders

Business Applications are no longer expected to be marginally effective, second class solutions.

Users have practical knowledge of applications and solutions - thanks to the array of smart phone applications and other technology they have daily interactions with.

Expert level Users will push the projects. Don’t let them push scope.

Requirements

Requirements aren’t gathered all at once anymore. We find that applications are often broken down into functional task areas - requirements are gathered for a task as it is being built in the solution. This may lead to a process where after the overall vision and scope is established, many smaller requirements gathering sessions occur. This works great for teams following the agile methodology.

  • Requirements are gathered in iterations

  • Often requirements are gathered and solved for a single task at a time

Tactics for Scope Management

Scope First

Scoping your project should be the one of the first things that you do.

  • What will be achieved

  • How will it be achieved

  • What needs to be created or modified

The scope and requirements for a project should be published somewhere accessible by everyone.

Stakeholder Involvement

Involve these folks early and often. In the end they hold the key to the deliverables success. Their satisfaction is critical for a successful project. Scope their requirements (and expectations) early. Confirm the deliverables designed to meet their requirements along the way.

Communicate

Make sure all invested parties understand the scope of what is being undertaken. This is critical to avoid misunderstandings and assumptions. Confirm understanding with everyone:

  • What will change

  • How will it change

  • What will their experience be

Continuous Validation

Sometimes a requirement may lose its priority after other related features are released. As releases of the solution become available, confirm that the priority of requirements haven’t shifted.

Common Language

The scope at a high level and the specific details should be accessible to all stakeholders. Everyone involved should:

  1. Know where to find the details of the scope / requirements

  2. Be able to understand what the details mean

Item 2 is very important - the scope and details should be written in such a way that everyone can easily understand what is required.

Scope Change

Being prepared for scope changes is critical. Businesses change, processes change and so do the teams and people interacting with them. Sometimes within the course of a project, the stakeholders may change the priorities or adjust features requirements. There should be room in your plan for variance.

  • Monitor at the scope pivots in your project carefully. Too many pivots affect cost and deliverables. If you’re making too many scope changes, review your overall scoping process and look for areas to improve.

  • A flag should also be raised when the overall benefits of a feature or solution shift. When this happens, pump the brakes and revisit your original project charter. Stay on course.

Visualize

Wherever possible, provide mockups that demonstrate the items that will change and how they will change. A picture is worth a thousand words. Getting these in front of stakeholders may also save you thousands of dollars. This is a great way of confirming understanding and expectations.

Conclusion

Hopefully you find these concepts useful and may adopt some of these ideas in your processes for scope management. Good luck!