Why Project Scope Management is Important?
By Nidhi ParikhJun 24, 2019
WHAT IS PROJECT SCOPE?
Remember when you first started any course be it in college or for personal reasons? They must have given you an outline about what the course would entail, what will be the intended outcomes/goals, what would be the duration and a further break-down of how the course would progress?
That’s exactly what a project scope is. It outlines the project goals, deliverables, tasks, features, functions, deadlines, cost and all other measures that will determine if the project is moving as per the plan.
Without a proper project scope, there are high chances of the project crossing the budget, time and even failing altogether. It wouldn’t come as a surprise then that according to a study published in Harvard Business Review, one in six projects had a cost overrun of 200% on an average and almost 70% of schedule overrun.
THE PROCESSES OF PROJECT SCOPE MANAGEMENT
The Project Management Institute in its PMBOK (Project Management Body Of Knowledge) guide lists down six process that scope management has-
With the help of meetings, discussions and historical data from past projects, you come up with a scope management plan. The plan describes how the scope will be defined, developed, controlled, monitored and evaluated.
This plan should ideally include all of the following-
- What will be the process for preparing the scope statement?
- How a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) will be created from the scope statement?
- How will it be approved and maintained?
- How will the project deliverables be formally approved?
- How will changes to the scope be managed?
Remember, your plan shouldn’t be anything formal or fancy. It is there to make your processes easy and so make it according to your needs – be it detailed or brief.
2. Collect Requirements:
Sometimes, it so happens that your client has given you all the basic details of what kind of software they require. You keep on working at the same for 2 months, putting in talented developers, designers and so on. At the end of 2 months, when you submit the software, they tell you that the cost is too high.
Now, you either have to scrap the project or waste unnecessary time in removing certain features and functionalities to make it cost-friendly. Many times, it also happens that the client gives you the cost and basic requirements details, but at the end they don’t like the interface and so on.
To avoid this and similar issues to crop up at the end, get every small detail from the client and even the key stakeholders.
In the end, you will have a document containing all those requirements and it should at least include – functional, reporting, approval, quality, training, service, business and approval requirements.
In case of big and detailed projects like construction projects, you will also need to deal with environmental regulations, procedures and the like.
You can go one step further and also note down all the assumptions and constraints mentioned by either the client or your team for certain requirements.
When you have collected all your requirements, at this stage you compile them and prepare a scope statement. This will give a detailed description of the outcome/product /service that the project is going to create.
It is also recommended to note all the exclusions i.e. all the things that you will not be providing. For example, your project is about making a customized software for the company. You normally create that kind of software with features 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. But due to cost constraints, you have to skip features 4 and 5.
Including all the exclusions will keep the team guided on what not to spend their time on.
4. Create Work Breakdown Structure (WBS):
When you know the details of all your requirements, create a Work Breakdown Structure. What this essentially means is that you break large tasks into smaller, manageable ones.
For example, one part of your project is to deal with getting a permit. You further break it down:
Task A – Getting the research and document ready by the legal team
Task B – Getting it approved by the CEO
Task C – Getting all the supporting documents ready by the administration team
Task D – Filing it online
With the help of a task management software, you can easily assign those tasks to your team members and set dependencies. You can also list down all the details like due dates, tools required, expenses and so on for individual tasks.
5. Validate Scope:
Once your project deliverables are set, you need approval for the same from the client or customer. Not only that but also in this stage, you note down how that process would take place.
For example, if you need to get approval from your clients for every feature that you produce, list down the key person from the client’s team whom you should reach out to. It’s also recommended to list down the criteria the client team has for approving/disapproving the feature.
At the end of this stage, you will have deliverables accepted by whoever needs to approve them.
6. Control Scope:
This process forms a part of project monitoring. Controlling scope is all about monitoring the status and managing project scope such that changes can be made if and when required.
It helps in avoiding scope creep. Scope creep is what happens when changes to a project are made without any control. A study by PMI shows that 52% of the projects completed over a period of one year experienced scope creep which is a 43% increase from that reported 5 years ago.
This stage helps in avoiding budget overruns, wasting your time and effort because of improper planning. It helps in creating a revised scope statement and work breakdown structure according to the changes happening.
IMPORTANCE OF PROJECT SCOPE MANAGEMENT:
1. Clear goals and deliverables:
You can’t start your journey without having a proper destination in mind. It’s the same with project management. Without clear goals and deliverables, your team could well be doing work but not the right kind of work. A well-defined project scope makes sure your team is busy doing the things that will help them achieve project goals.
2. A clear process:
When you make a Work Breakdown Structure as a part of your project scope management, you get a clear workflow.
It saves the trouble and misunderstandings that the team can be prone to if stages aren’t broken down into smaller tasks. For example, take the research phase in the project. Without the WBS as a reference, different people would have different ideas on how to go about working in that phase. Person A would like to study historical data, get guidance from experts, study market trends and so on. On the other hand, Person B already has some data in hand and wants to study that. With a clear workflow, all the steps are broken down and people will have a clear idea on what is supposed to be done and by whom.
3. Better Understanding:
Not everyone will be working on the same phase in the project. With proper scope management, everyone on the team, clients, decision makers and important stakeholders will be on the same page.
Clients will have a clear idea on the deadlines and the goals while project managers can make use of a project management software to keep a check on the status of the tasks and project as a whole.
4. Better decision making:
When you have clear baselines defined in your project scope, you get a reference point for any decision to be made. For example, you figure out that you need to put in more capital as the client needs urgent delivery. As you clearly outlined the cost baseline in the scope, you can negotiate about the increase in cost of the project with the client and come to a solution.
5. Better evaluation criteria:
With clear deadlines and cost estimations set in the scope, it becomes easy for the project manager to evaluate and even predict project success. With the help of the task dependency feature in project management software, you can evaluate why the dependent tasks have been delayed and handle them effectively.
6. Better control:
As the project scope clearly outlines what is included and excluded in the project, once the project is in the execution phase, the project manager has control of what gets added and removed in the project.
Scope management also deals with factors that may result in changes as and when the project progresses and thus helps in change control.
While scope management may take much of your time and efforts, in today’s dynamic world it’s worth that investment. While changes to the scope may alter your plan, it would be unwise not to have a plan in the first place. It’s also important to note that while there are clear processes online about how to go about making a project scope, keep your work processes and workforce in mind. Instead of pushing your team to change, tweak your project scope to suit your organization’s needs.
As Dale Carnegie says, “An hour of planning can save you 10 hours of doing.” Similarly, having an ideal project scope keeps you guided on the correct path and stops you from straying on the wrong ones.
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