Friday, December 8, 2006

December 8, 2006 - Scope Creep Part 2

Managing scope begins with coming to an agreement with your sponsor and key stakeholders on what that scope is. This involves definition, documentation and approval.

Definition. Begin with a general statement about the purpose of the project. This should be an overview of the reason the project is being undertaken. It can be as short as a single sentence or up to a couple of paragraphs. Anything longer is too much. You want this to summarize the overall goal so it becomes the focus point against which scope changes are compared to later in your project. If a change request doesn’t further the project’s purpose then you should question whether or not it belongs.

The second step in defining your project is to create a list of deliverables that, when added together, fulfill the purpose of your project. When my wife sends me out to get something at the grocery store I write it down to make sure her expectations are met. Your scope gains definition as you making your grocery list. In some cases you may have to drill down a couple of levels to better understand what you are building, like buying the ingredients instead of purchasing a pre-made cake.

To do this you will need to work with the people that requested the project. One of the difficulties you may encounter is that they will want to drill down to the requirements instead of staying at the higher level. As an example, you need to know that they are looking for an online customer interface for placing and tracking orders. You also need to know which back end systems it has to interface with. You don’t need to know that the third screen should be a pale green. If it comes up you might want to jot it down for the requirements phase, but don’t put it in your scope statement.

NOTE: If you have a multi-phase project, there should be a definition of the full project and each phase should describe their slice. Depending on where you are in the life of the project, a Charter may have been developed. Reading through that and other project initiation documentation will give you a good starting point.

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