Monday, December 11, 2006

December 11, 2006 - Scope Creep Part 3

Once you have gathered an understanding of your project you need to put it in writing. Many companies have Charter or Statement of Work templates as a starting point. What goes in to those becomes the baseline for your project. If something arises that is not in there or changes what was agreed to there will be an impact to your estimates and time lines. With that level of importance, let’s look at the next piece of the Scope Management processes.

Documentation. There are 3 specific areas you need to cover when documenting the scope of your project: Purpose, In Scope and Out of Scope. You template may have other sections, but for Scope Management, these are the key ones.

We discussed nailing down the purpose in the previous entry. It may need to be reworded before it is ready for prime time, but you have the basis already.

The In Scope section is an outcome of the list that you detailed in our discussion of definition. Now we need to draw boundaries around the items. These boundaries are not intended to put a noose around the project. Rather, they are there as construction cones on the road to keep the project headed in the right direction. They are there to let you know when you are diverging from the plan so you can make realistic, fact based decisions about the direction of the project.

Here are a couple of examples that can cause problems without the cones in place.

JAD sessions. It was decided that you are going to have Joint Application Development (JAD) sessions to drill down to the requirements. Should you just start meeting? One project manager came to me after 3 months of JAD sessions and said they had some great requirements for their project. The problem was they had spent a ton of time and most of their budget to do it and had nothing to show for it.

There are 3 things to box in for JAD sessions: The number of sessions, the number of participants and the length of each session. Your scope statement could read, “Three (3) JAD session will be held over the course of 1 week. Each session will be 6 hours in duration and will be attended by one (1) Subject Matter Expert each from the Marketing, Finance and Orders.” You have now established a basis to measure changes against. If someone from Shipping attends, it will take more effort and potentially more time per meeting. If, at the end of three sessions, there is a need for a fourth you can determine the cost and impact to the schedule and present that to the team as a change request.

User Acceptance Testing. End users are key to the success of any project. Their involvement is needed from the beginning of the design through implementation, but nowhere is it more evident than in User Acceptance Testing (UAT). As the project manager, you have little control over the end users outside of your department. Ideally they are responsible for developing test scripts, performing the tests and documenting the results. Your scope statement would read, “The development team will assist in the execution of User Acceptance Testing for a 2 week period beginning on a date agreed to with the Business Manager during System Testing. The development team will ensure that the UAT environment is available, batch jobs are run appropriately and reports are generated in a timely manner.”

In the event that a third week of UAT is necessary, you now have a clear change in scope to deal with. If your developers are asked to take a more active role in testing there may be additional cost to the project. In fact, your developers may be working on another project while supporting this effort at 50% or less.

Out of Scope is nearly as important as what is In Scope. In this section you need to spell out those things that might appear to be your team’s responsibility but are not. It is like filling out a rental car agreement where you initial…initial…sign here…prick finger and place print there. You are acknowledging that you don’t want the roadside assistance or extra life insurance and that you are going to fill the car up with gas before returning.

In relationship to the UAT discussion above, a good Out of Scope statement might say, “User Acceptance testing is the responsibility of the Business Manager. This includes the development of test scripts, execution of testing and documenting findings.”

Notice that I did not just say, “User Acceptance Testing is out of scope.” Rather, I specifically indicated who was responsible for the activity and laid out the things they should not expect the development team to do.

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