Home > News & Events > Key Learning #2: Manage project scope understand it, specify it, communicate it and pay attention to scope change and creep

Key Learning #2: Manage project scope understand it, specify it, communicate it and pay attention to scope change and creep

One of the earliest activities undertaken by a Project Manager is the confirmation of project scope. A clear identification and sign-off on project scope sets the boundaries and the path the project will follow.

Tuesday 3 March 2015

The scope guides planning and determines what's in and what's out.  Without this clarity requirements will continually change causing headaches for all concerned, confusion and a blow-out in scheduling and cost.

Many projects are hampered by stakeholders who want to be heard and ensure their needs are met (for whatever reason, be that genuinely wanting the project to succeed are otherwise).  Often this creates friction between project teams and stakeholders.

In my experience I have found that key stakeholders who are involved in defining the scope are more supportive and accepting of the project's direction and activities.  This also helps when negotiating with a stakeholder for the release of people to work on a project.

Scope creep can be a thorn in every Project Manager's side. In many respects this is unavoidable, particularly where projects go through a discovery phase.  As challenging as it is, that's the reality of project management and the only way to minimise scope creep is to make the effort early on to involve and consult.

I have also had the experience of working on projects which are well underway and still have no clear scope of work.  It's a little like getting into a boxing ring and your opponent is a Transformer which can morph into all sorts of fighting machines.  You really don't know what you've stepped into, you get smashed around the ring and hope the fight ends soon. Too often this results in wasted time and effort.

I appreciate that sometimes there is a drive to get projects happening and to be making progress, however time and money can be saved by ensuring clear and agreed scoping documentation exists before significant activity commences. 

If the right people are asked the right questions at the right time, then requirements can be clearly defined, communicated and understood by the project team and all concerned resulting in better planning, resourcing and baseline from which to work.


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