Keys to Effectively Define the Scope of the Project
A clear project scope is essential to the success of any project. Without this first crucial
step, all subsequent hard work—and there will be much more than necessary—will most likely
end in failure.
Project Scope is not the same as knowing what the project is supposed to accomplish. It’s
more than that. It’s creating a clear vision and agreement on the ultimate outcome. It’s
the road map that allows the entire project to stay on target.
Steps ensure a well-defined Project Scope:
Identify Project Needs
Understanding the “what and why” of a project will allow
you to set specific goals and objectives. It enables the team to easily identify tasks
and timelines when the Project outcomes are clear.
Confirm the Objectives and Goals of the Project
The foundation of Project Scope are
the objectives and goals. It is essential that these are crystal clear because it
eliminates the potential for getting off track, also known as scope creep which delays
projects and can lead to budget increases. The best way to do this is to follow the
SMART process, ensuring that goals are:
Specific—State exactly what the project is to achieve. All the what, why and how
tasks will be done. This greatly reduces misunderstandings
Measurable—Can you provide feedback and results for the goals and objectives
listed? If not, rework them.
Achievable—Is this project possible? Given the budget, timeline and resources
allocated, can it get done?
Realistic—What if problems arise? Is this project sensible enough that it can
be delivered easily regardless of the unknown? And will these unknowns reduce
the quality of the outcome like budget overages and long delays?
Time Frame—Can they be met within the time frame allocated? Is it a locked
timeline or is there any flexibility?
Make a Resource Plan
In project management, a resource is anything you’ll need
and have available to complete a project. This is everything from budget to physical
equipment to human capital. The resource plan defines these resources and also how
they’ll be used. Skipping this step could cause you to find out you do not have an
essential resource for your project you need down the road.
Draft a Project Scope Statement
Once you’ve done all this hard work, don’t shove
it in a drawer. This statement will be the guiding beacon for your project’s progress
from start to finish. It will be the touchstone you come back to when questions or
problems arise. It may just be a long paragraph, a bullet list or several pages
depending on the complexity of the project. owever it comes out, it should answer
the following questions:
Why is this project happening? What are the ultimate deliverables?
What are the parameters? The budget, the timeline, human and other resources
available. Knowing which team members are available for the project.
What timeline is required? When is everything due? Is this a hard and fast
Is there anything in the statement that is out of scope?
If you know of anything that might trip up the project in
progress. Even if you aren’t ready to tackle these limitations before the project
begins, knowing them going into to the project will help you with not being blindsided
by these constraints. Some examples of these may be technological glitches or lack of
Establish a Change Control Process
If you are managing a complex project, there
will be changes. It’s guaranteed. It could be an overly-ambitious timeline or customer
feedback that indicates a new business direction. Doing the balancing act between the
flexibility for change when necessary and avoiding scope creep is critical. Creating
a process to handle evaluation of requested changes and implementation of them will
save you a lot of time and frustration down the line. It will also give you a
documented process if any changes affect the timelines or budgets set in your
Share your Project Scope Statement with the Team
Once the stakeholders have seen
and approved the Project Scope Statement it’s time for the unveiling to the team.
They should have this at their fingertips at all times so they can reference it if t
hey have questions about the overall goals and objectives.
Defining your Project Scope will set the foundation that your project will build upon.
It ensures the quality of outcome you want to produce as a project manager as well as
ensuring meeting all stakeholders and customer requirements. It focuses the team from
the outset which will be invaluable through the entire project.