The Project Scope Management Begins With the End in Mind

May 12, 2020

The project is the colossal foundation stone of business, the way we get-up-and-go from point A to point B, and the measurable system for getting things done. There are several facets to best practices in project management. This article will discuss one of the most critical, the scoping of a project. Project scope is the means in which one will verve about getting the project succeeded and how to suitably delegate tasks to the members of the project team.

Why Project Scope Is So Important?

Every type of project, whether it is a global project for a multi-national corporation, a local government project or a personal project such as building a house, will have a project scope. It could be defined at length in a Business Requirements document or simply be written as a list of things to do for a personal project but in every case, it is important that it is understood at the outset and that it does not change over the course of the project lifecycle. Or, if it does change, that the reasons why are clearly understood and accepted.

But what about the tasks that are very specifically NOT in scope? Should these also be documented? There are often two very opposing schools of thought – some believe it is just as important to state what will not be delivered as what will be delivered. This avoids the common situation where a stakeholder assumes that a certain task/product/activity will be done because in their minds it is so closely associated with another task/product/activity and the two are inseparable. Others believe that to expend effort discussing and documenting what will not be done is simply a waste of time and the process of documenting the requirements will root out all the assumptions that may be being made.

But anyone with real-world experience as a project manager will have come across problems that suggest that, no matter how well documented you think the requirements are, if you don’t specifically state what is omitted then you will have issues like these:

1. The client wanted something different to what was delivered

2. Significant changes are requested throughout the project

3. Different stakeholders on the same project have different needs

4. A list of future enhancements is being compiled before the project is finished

Problems like these indicate that the scope of the project was not well defined or what was not in scope was not defined.

If you fail to define what is NOT in scope for a project then the people involved such as project managers, team members, end users or stakeholders WILL make assumptions. This will lead to a failure to meet their expectations which, essentially, means a failed project. It is, therefore, essential to clearly document what is not in scope if you want your project to be a success.

Managing stakeholder expectations is a key skill that is becoming more important as projects become larger and more complex. Every project manager should aim to develop this capability early on in their career – it may mean finding the confidence to question senior management or important clients, but failure to do so will only lead to project failure.

And the solution is humble – talk and talk openly, listen, listen without preconception. The client might have a role far indifferent from yours but then they are the ones who will eventually outline the success of your project. Foster good relationships with them right at the outset and you will be rewarded with good communications that will not find you on the BIG DAY discovering that everyone “assumed” that such-and-such would be delivered and it was not.

Now that we know the importance of project scope, we move to the next crucial step, which is – What defines the project scope?

There are 2 portions to what describes a project scope:

1. Scope creep management

2. Scope management plan

Scope management plan is a document conceived to plan ‘how a project will be defined, managed, controlled, verified, and communicated out to the team’. It also allows the stakeholders and clients the ability to understand clearly how the project will be managed. A good and all-inclusive project scope management document makes it informal and easy to understand two things – how a project will be managed and how it can be used to control and govern change management. This measure of control greatly reduces missteps. Some items are listed as within the scope of the project, then others are deemed out of scope. Those out of possibility would go unswervingly through the change control course and are not instinctively added to the project work lists. The project scope Management strategy is counted-in in an inclusive project management plan. It can be formal and very detailed or informal and loosely framed plan; the nature of the document depends on the communication requirements of the project.

Scope creep denotes the innate tendency or nature of a project to gradually grow as time goes on. This usually occurs because more requirements get introduced or issues come up that were not seen in the initial part of the project. A good and all-inclusive project scope would include expectation for the scope creep.

Scope creep management is an analysis of your team, the behaviours and routines of how they work, and how you concoct for the scope creep. Projects are primed on a timeline and the minute everything is approved, vicissitudes to that timeline are scowled upon. Whether it is a new plan for a team or a technology roll out, an unapproved and unplanned change in the scope could distress the success of the project. Which is why scope creep is considered the primary reason that projects go crooked or over budget.

Together, a virtuous project scope management plan and a firm grip on scope creep management will significantly increase a project’s chances of getting completed on time and within the expected budget.

Good Luck! And here’s a thumbs up to your project success – Remember “Scope Matters”.


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