How to define a project scope?
Why project scope needs to be defined?
The people who have worked on project planning previously will have stories to tell of how scope changes cause grief. Scope is something which is bound to change & this is the expected term when project planning is concerned. As the project details increase, so the complications also creep in simultaneously. At the initial stage these obstacles aren’t foreseeable but the project members, hopefully build a contingency for what they can’t see.
When a scope planning takes place, there are various parties involved in it & each of them have disparities with their perceptions. There are piles of stakeholder expectations & here is the place where scope creep bangs in & disturbs the actual planned scope of the project. A poorly defined project scope is more immune to failures & it suffers from range of problems:
- Budget has crossed the decided figure
- Deadlines of the project are fluctuating (delaying)
- Frequently changing requisitions
- Complicated consensus of stakeholders
To avoid such complications in the future, it is very crucial to create a well-defined project scope which itself is an invaluable resource to manage client & stakeholder expectations.
What is Scope Creep?
Even when the project scope is clearly & properly defined, still there is a threat of scope creep. Whilst struggling to retain the project within its original scope, you might find that ‘scope creep’ starts to develop & simultaneously the things grow out of control. Whenever a product is added with new features, which are already been approved, at such point scope creep comes in process.
The Project Manager & other people should take scope creep seriously & prevent it by applying all possible efforts. In case, if creep is left ignored over a period of time, the entire project could end up being far out of the budget & time consuming. There are some main causes of scope creep:
- Poor change control
- Delay in involving the users
- Inferior analysis of requirements
- Lack of communication between parties
- Undervalue the importance of the project
Thus, minimizing scope creep as much as possible will prove rewarding to your project & help your team to focus on the actual target.
- Understand the project objectives:
Objectives are concrete statements illustrating what the project is exactly targeting. Establishing the project objectives is the first step towards setting project goals. The objectives help the Project Manager to ensure that the team delivers the result according to the specified features or functions.
- Document the Project Requirements:
It is very important to mark down, that what is there in the scope & what is not. The stakeholders easily add on assumptions on what is included in the scope. So, it’s always better to ask them to sign a WBS agreement which will help in careful analysis of the requirements & save ample amount of time & cost. Work breakdown structure (WBS) is a critical document for project’s success which helps in assigning work to people responsible for carrying out the work & evaluate accomplishments objectively when work is done.
- Build a team of experienced individuals:
It is always better to work with experienced professionals on a certain project. The people who have already worked on similar segments previously will help you readily spot missing elements of the scope on the basis of their rich experience. Involving such individuals in the project is an opportunity to engage with anyone who knows the work better than you do, but at the same time they create a common vision of work for either members too.
- Construct a project scope statement:
- Project scope description:
Scope description details the features & functions of the deliverable’s the project will develop. It is important to show that the project scope is work oriented & thus scope description answers about what is being produced.
- Project acceptance criteria:
The final product needs to satisfy the customer’s quality expectations & gain acceptance according to the standard criteria. This is the process of accepting accomplished products & services as it forms the basis for project quality plan.
- Project justification:
It is important to justify ‘how’ & ‘why’ your project came into existence. Thus, it is crucial to describe how the project will influence & get affected by other terms.
- Project assumption:
Assumptions add potential risk to a project, whilst it may turn out to be false, but it presumes that whatever you’re relying on is true or certain. It helps in addressing uncertain information as you perform your project, so it is important to document & analyze it.
- Project constraints:
There are various restrictions that limit certain segments for the achievement of your target. Technological, resource & physical constraints are different types of constraints which put certain limitations on project activities, so that project schedule should not get disturbed because of extended period i.e., avoiding delays to complete the project on time.
- Validating the scope:
Once the project scope is prepared, scope validation confirms that the work done matches the details in the WBS & the project scope plan. After reviewing the audits & user trails, scope validation is completed. In case if scope is not matching the ideal criteria, it has to undergo through scope verification & quality control process.
Once a project scope is approved, it is frozen & difficult to change further. So, to avoid cumbersome changes in project scope, make sure you take earlier actions to prevent it by following a proper pattern. Ensure that all the parties included in the project have productive discussions, questionnaires & healthy interviewing sessions, so as to create a successful project with lesser complications.