Wednesday, December 13, 2006

December 13, 2006 - Scope Creep Part 5

So your scope has been defined, documented and approved. Great start, but how do you keep it from slipping?

Tracking Scope. Too often project managers loose track of their project’s focus. They have a clearly defined purpose and scope but then they don’t look at it again. The best way to track scope is to revisit the defining documents on a regular basis. You don’t have to re-read it word for word, but a cursory review will remind you of your direction, like Captain Jack Sparrow consulting his compass to adjust the direction of the Black Pearl.

One project manager I was working with was smoothly sailing his project and was ready to get approval for one of his deliverables. Upon reviewing his Statement of Work to write up the approval document he found that what they created wasn’t part of his project. At some point they had started using a different name and produced something that wasn’t quite what was promised. Fortunately it was close to the original and some quick adjustments brought it back in line. The point is clear, though, without keeping an eye on your compass you will get lost.

My father is semi-retired, which means he would rather be working than sitting around. He now drives tractor for a potato farm in western New York State. In order to plow a straight line he focuses on a point at the far end of the field and aims for it. One time he finished a row and found that the point he had picked was the head of a duck that was walking back and forth along the edge of the field. Needless to say, that row was not even close to straight. If you allow your scope to waddle back and forth your project will experience similar consequences.

By keeping the expectations clear in your head you can track your progress against the commitments and steer you project in the right direction.

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