Saturday, September 29, 2012

Scope Management – a practical approach

Scope Management – a practical approach

It is easy to list the processes involved in managing the scope of a project.

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

But, still project managers suffer due to scope creeps, unrealistic scopes, Improper Work breakdown structure etc…

What is lacking here is a practical approach to managing scope. The following tips will definitely help a project manager to manage the scope better…

Understand the vision of the project

Early in the initiation and planning process itself, be clear of the vision of the project. Go through the project charter rigorously. Understand the real purpose behind the project. If the project charter does not give enough information, contact the sponsors of the project and be sure of why the project is being done. This will help a great deal to relate to the scope of the project. It will help identify any gaps existing in the requirements, as well as any gold plating. You should also interview the stakeholders/customers that can give you more insight into the requirements the project is supposed to meet.


This sounds familiar isn’t it. Conducting workshops will definitely help you get lots of hidden requirements that might have got missed while preparing the scope. It is also about reading between the lines and asking question to all relevant stakeholders. The best way is to ask the 5 why’s to really drill down why a particular feature is really necessary. A good idea is to use an overhead projector and let everyone discuss on the requirements. Take notes that are visible to the audience with the help of the projector. This will help make things transparent. Make sure you also clearly list what is out of scope.

Prioritise the Deliverables

This is something followed by the Product Owners in managing backlogs and prioritising user stories for a Sprint. But using a similar approach to prioritise the deliverables even in a waterfall model can give immense benefits. This will help realise what needs to be delivered first and what can be delivered at a later stage. Here again, customer involvement helps.

Work Breakdown Structure

This is the most easily understood but rather difficult to implement. It is easy to realise that the scope is broken up into smaller components that can be easily assigned with resource and aligned with the budget at the work package component level. But care and training is needed to make sure you do the work breakdown structure well and that later you are able to divide it into activities that can be assigned to resources directly to ensure that the schedule works out well.

Scope Baseline

Now, when you finally baseline the scope, ensure that it has agreement by all stakeholders and is signed off.

Monitoring, Tracking the Scope
First ensure that you would have a strong Integrated Change Control in place. Next, when tracking the scope, ensure that any changes to the scope is raised as a change request and is agreed with al stakeholders through integrated change control. In doing so, you ensure that everyone realises the impact of the scope change in terms of time and cost.

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