Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Vital signs that tells you that Scope Management needs attention in your organization

Almost all projects would have a scope defined base. Those projects that don’t have a proper scope management in place would definitely be at a peril. Though most of the managers realize the importance of scope management in the first place, they almost fail to execute it properly. Either the processes are in place, but not effective enough, or there is not enough maturity for taking scope seriously. Such organizations would normally give a fair bit of reasoning such as we are always on our toes and our project environment is far dynamic, or our resources are working day night to ensure that the customer is satisfied by providing last minute patches/hot fixes and last minute requirements.
If one looks deep into the situation, one of the reasons is the pure lack of scope management, which causes a cascading affect on unrealistic planning, poor quality of product, lots of over work and thereby causing low morale of employees.
Though there could be so many reasons/ signs, here are a few vital ones that will indicate that scope management needs attention. It could mean that the project manager would need to carefully examine and  bring in positive changes in the scope management related processes:

The team has trouble getting the project off the ground.
This is the first sign that shows that the scope mgmt related process is either not working or is not in place at all. Team members would be looking at previously executed similar projects and assuming that they would work on the project accordingly. Everyone would be thinking that he is doing his job well without looking at the big picture.
Number of False starts .
This is another vital sign where the project team would plan out the requirements to be done and then after a few days or weeks realize that the requirements/ scope were somewhat different than what the customer wanted in the first place. Here we go again, reworking on the scope. And after a few weeks when the team has already started progressing on  the requirements, they realize that the stakeholder had another idea. This sign also indicates that not only was the scoping not done properly, but there was also a lack of proper processes to manage the changes in scope though an integrated change control environment.
Unpredictable sponsor and stakeholders.
This could hit the project and the project team throughout the project life cycle. In the beginning, when the scope keeps changing every often, in between during execution and control when stakeholder would find defects as well as changes in the fundamental design and concept of the product itself; and during the end when last minute major and critical changes would creep in and shift the project completion date further to the right.

Lots of changes amounting to rework.
This is in continuation of the previous point, and it goes a step ahead when the team has no idea what will hit them next. They would have lots of unplanned work on weekends and the work would look like perennially continuing, affecting the morale of the team members and the employees of the organization as a whole.

If any of these vital signs are observed in your project, it is indicative of the scope management process that would need fixing immediately. Next, the project manager should follow the other areas of project management that got impacted as a result of the scope related problems such as time/ quality/ Resources etc.

It is important to set-up and follow the scope management processes i.e.,
1)       Collecting Requirements
2)       Defining the scope
3)       Creating and base lining the WBS – re-base lining whenever there is relevant/ agreed scope changes with clear impact on time and cost.
4)       Controlling the scope through integrated change control.
5)       Verifying that the scope delivered is in sync with what the customer initially asked for.

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