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
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.
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 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
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.
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.
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
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.
The scope at a high level and the specific details should be accessible to all stakeholders. Everyone involved should:
Know where to find the details of the scope / requirements
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.
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.
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.
Hopefully you find these concepts useful and may adopt some of these ideas in your processes for scope management. Good luck!