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PROJECT SCOPE MANAGEMENT AND ITS BENEFITS

What is Project Scope?

In project management, scope sets the boundaries to the project within which it can extend. The scope details the deliverables to the as a result of the project initiative. 

The project scope determines the work and activities. The project manager must understand the scope clearly and correctly to determine what falls within the boundaries. Those activities that fall inside the boundary become “in scope” and those outside are stricken down as “not in scope”. Only the ‘in-scope” activities are planned for development.

The project scope is the first phase of project planning. The project scope forms the project objectives, the deliverables that include features and functions, limitations, assumptions, and project dependencies. Upon acceptance of the project, the scope management forms the first step in planning.

Why Project Scope is So Important

The question often asked  is “Why Project Scope is important?”

Every project has to be delivered on time, within scope, within budget  and yet lot many projects fail on these aspects – and the reason: the project scope was not captured correctly

A successful project manager will understand exactly whats to be achieved as a project objective also called scope. For a project manager to stay on track the entire time, regardless of size or complexity, it is important to read the scope right.  And that means defining the scope which makes it simple to stay on schedule.

Expectations management is the most difficult and complex task for a project manager as it involves Managing clients' and stakeholders’  hopes and beliefs. A definitive and distinct scope brings everyone on the same page and helps to avoid often cited problems like

  • changing requirements,
  • or mid-project changes
  • budget overspend
  • slippage in schedule
  • the final outcome contested by client  

Without Project scope, the project manager will be left clueless about the time, cost and schedule and resources. The scope influences and forms the basis for every decision made by the project manager.

Project Scope Management

Even before the project begins, Project scope management is initiated. Scope Management is the collection of processes that captures the work to be undertaken in the project and also records the work that is not required. How to manage scope? Through a use case which clearly in writing defines the scope of the project. The business case is closely monitored throughout the project lifecycle.

Project scope states the whole work to be done to deliver the product or services with the agreed features and functions. The scope covers everything that goes into a project.

The Project Scope Management Plan

The Scope Management Plan specifies the scope’s definition, development, and verification. It also defines the responsibilities in managing the project’s scope and guides in scope control. The project scope management plan is one of the most critical and crucial aspects of a project’s success. It identifies the right work needs to be done. According to PMBOK, Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, there are five processes for effective scope management: Collect Requirements, Define Scope. Create Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), Verify Scope and Control Scope.

  1. Collect Requirements – in this process the requirements that meet the objectives of the project are defined and documented. The documentation will include status updates and final deliverables. Project charter and stakeholder register are the foundation of this process. This process will help in understanding and managing to present the stakeholders’ expectations.

The documentation of this process will serve as an input to the next process, which is Define Scope.

  1. Define Scope – this step is the most important as it creates the scope statement and helps in understanding the expected deliverables. In this process, the ‘in scope’ and ‘out of scope’ are clearly defined. The project scope statement will guide the team members throughout the project. The define scope process is decisive to the project’s success as it includes the deliverables, assumptions, and constraints within which the project must be engaged, and executed and delivered. Define Scope works as a referral guide to the project and forms the statement that becomes the basis for all project activity.
     
  2. Create WBS –  in this process, the deliverables are broken down into smaller individual tasks based on the project scope statement and requirement gathering documents. The deliverables are streamlined and the hierarchical structure makes it simpler to schedule, monitor and control. It also makes it easy to standardize and automate workflows.
     
  3. Verify Scope – In this process, the scope is formally accepted for all the deliverables documented by all the stakeholders involved, mainly the customer or sponsor.
     
  4. Control Scope – In this process, the scope of the project or product is monitored and controlled and any changes in the scope baseline are managed. Changes become inevitable despite capturing everything in the scope but the changes must be controlled to avoid scope creep.

Components of a Scope Management Plan

The Scope management ascertains that the scope of the project is defined accurately. This helps the project manager to assign resources to the tasks factoring the costs involved in completing the project. So it all starts with the scope, especially what is in-scope and out-of-scope. There are three processes involved in scope management. They are planning, controlling and closing.

  • Planning: This step captures and defines the work to be undertaken.
  • Controlling: the scope creep, change tracking, approval or disapproval of changes and documentation takes place in this step.
  • Closing: All the project deliverables are audited in this step and the outcome of the project is assessed against the original plan.

The project scope statement is fundamental to the scope management plan. One more critical document associated with scope management is defining the scope in a statement. To delineate the project, a document is drawn after understanding all the processes.

Scope Statement

What is a Project Scope Statement?

The project regardless of size or duration or cost will include a Project Scope Statement. Project Scope Statement is created even before the project work commences. Project Managers use Project Scope Statement to map and confirm the expected results, constraints, limitations, assumptions,  exclusions, justification based on which project work will be undertaken. All the stakeholders must agree upon the project scope statement.

What does a Project Scope Statement Include?

The scope statement creates an outline of the project objectives, goals, relationships, deadlines and other specific elements that minimize the risk due to disruptions or changes. The scope statement contains the following.

Business Case– this document presents the requirement of the project and the possible benefits that can be delivered.

Project Description– presents an overview of the final deliverables.

 Success Criteria- The pre-agreed criteria with the stakeholders in determining the project’s success. These are specific conditions that have to be met before any deliverables are accepted by stakeholders.

Deliverables: The expected results that the project will produce upon completion are called as deliverables.

Project Exclusions:  the part of the work excluded and will not be done as part of the project. Its called scoping out and is important to include so as to clarify and confirm the assumptions and uncertainties.

LimitationsAnything that can limit the project’s progress. It can be resources or technology or infrastructure related issues

AssumptionsAny assumptions made during the course of the project that may impact the final outcome of the project.

Define the Scope of a Project

To ensure the success of the project, a well-defined scope is an absolute must. Without a well-documented and defined scope in place, no matter how hardworking are your resources are efficient the project plan, the project just can't succeed in achieving its intended goals.

A clear vision of the project’ requirement – not at a higher level – but right down to gritty nitty details at a granular level capturing all the specific project goals, deliverables, features, functions, tasks, deadlines, and ultimately costs constitutes a good scope document and helps in defining the project scope.

So how do you define a project scope?

The following steps help to define the scope of a project:

1. Identify the project needs

It is important to understand the identify the project needs to understand the scope better. Identifying the needs provides the best beginning. It enables us to set groundwork, goals, and objectives. It will help in preparing the groundwork for the tasks to be created and the tasks to follow and execution of the tasks.

2. Confirm the objectives and goals of the Project

The objectives and goals of the Project must follow a SMART guideline. By SMART, the objectives and goals of the project ought to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and met within a time frame.

3. Project Scope description

The scope must clearly describe the features and functionalities as part of the project work. The clarity will have its bearing on the project’s success.

4. Expectations and acceptance

The project scope should be fine-tuned to favor an outcome that meets the expectations of the customer or stakeholders and result in the acceptance of deliverables by end-users.

The projects that meet the customer’s approval and earn their recognition and satisfaction are considered to be successful.

5. Identify constraints

Any project will face constraints, which are as inevitable as changes. There are possibilities or limitations, roadblocks that impede the progress and come in the way of achieving the desired results. But when these constraints are identified, then they can be tackled and the roadblocks cleared making way for smooth passage. It helps in minimizing the problems which otherwise would derail or delay the project.

6. Identify necessary changes

There is nothing more expensive than rework. The time, money and material invested would rise exponentially in case of rework and hence its best to avoid reworking the scope of your project. It will burn all available bandwidth. but there are instances when changes become necessary in which case, settle for the minimal change by making all the stakeholders involved to understand the consequence, especially delay and the additional cost.

How to Identify Scope Risks

A successful project manager must manage scope risks.

What is Scope Risk?

According to PMBOK® Guide—6th Edition, Risk is defined as "an uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, has a positive or negative effect on one or more project objectives". Scope risks then are the uncertain events or conditions related to the project scope.

How do these scope risks arise? The out-of-scope are clearly identified and placed outside the boundaries of project work and yet they somehow sneak their way inside bloating the project scope. That’s what is called scope creep and these are requirements that weren’t factored as part of the agreed scope. It is a scope risk.

But how to identify the Scope Risk?

There are a few methods that can help to Identify Scope Risks.

Interviews

Prepare a set of questions specifically related to scope, and schedule an interview select stakeholders to clarify and confirm the deliverables, assumptions, exclusions, and constraints. It is advisable to document the results and secure a sign-off.

Brainstorming

Pick out the most significant risk that can impair the project deliverables and make a list of questions and use the same for a brainstorming session. With several minds applying their mind to matter, the outcome can be significant in identifying the scope risks.

Checklists

A project ought to have a check-list. Inspect if there are any scope-related risks. If not, create one. There must be a post-review conducted after every project to record the risks. It must be understood that all the risks cannot be captured in a checklist.

Assumption Analysis

Any Assumptions made in the project are sources of risk. These assumptions must be studied for the associated risks and documented.

Cause and Effect Diagrams

Cause and Effect diagrams are very effective in identifying the cause of risks. Once the cause is identified and addressed, the risk gets reduced.

Nominal Group Technique (NGT)

 Nominal Group Technique is a kind of brainstorming where the Inputs are collected and prioritized. And the output of NGT is a prioritized list. The risk can be identified from the result of a prioritized list of risks.

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is one of the most powerful tools for identifying scope risk.  A WBS with project team whereby they walk through the lowest elements —or work packages as they are called commonly referred. The participants are asked to identify risks.

What are the benefits of Project Scope Management?

Good project scope management will

  1. Help to understand what is in-scope of the project
  2. Help to understand the deliverables of the project
  3. help  to make informed decision making during the project
  4. helps to identify risks and plans steps to mitigate
  5. helps in setting the right expectations to the stakeholders
  6. helps in planning on time money, manpower,  material
  7. eases the scope related stress on project manager
  8. prioritizes tasks to keep the project on track and reduces unplanned work to save on time and expenses
  9. Enable effective communications between stakeholders by bringing everyone on the same page
  10. support successful project delivery

The most critical aspect to the success of a project is the project scope, and the project manager has to stay on top not to lose track or focus on the scope.

 

RECOMMENDED POST:

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Key Features of PMP® Certification Training

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The Step By Step Procedure To Fill The Application Form

 

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