Project Smart ~ Exploring trends and developments in project management today

Calendar icon
Adobe PDF icon

Best Practices for Scope Management

~ By Jessie L Warner

Businessman drawing a scope management schema

The knowledge area of Scope Management is all about making sure that the project includes only the work required to complete the project successfully. To be effective at scope management, you must learn to control what is and what is not in the scope of the project. Below are some of the best practices for successful scope management:

  1. Collect Project Requirements
  2. Define the Scope
  3. Create a Work Breakdown Structure
  4. Verify the Scope and Get Feedback
  5. Monitor and Control the Scope

1. Collect Project Requirements

The ability to define and then effectively control the scope of a project depends a lot on the goals and requirements of the project. For this reason, you need to gather the necessary information up front, before you ever start the project. By clearly understanding the needs of the stakeholders and the capabilities and constraints of your resources, you have a higher chance to succeed.

The easiest way to collect the project requirements is to perform interviews with the key stakeholders. Ask questions about their views of the finished product, the deliverables they expect to receive, and the schedule of the project. Once you have the information you need, you may want to create a Scope Management Plan to define the processes that will be followed in defining scope, documenting scope, verifying and accepting scope, and managing change requests.

2. Define the Scope

The scope of a project typically consists of a set of deliverables, an assigned budget, and an expected closure time. The previously collected project requirements will help you define the scope. Be sure to write down exactly what the project will entail and what it will not entail. Any amount of variation in the scope of the project can affect the project schedule, budget, and ultimately the success of the project. Getting a clear and concise definition of the scope will help you manage changes as they occur. With a clear scope definition, you can simply ask the question, "Does this change fall within the scope of the project?" If the answer is yes, then vet and approve the change. If the answer is no, then put a pin it and save it for another time or project.

3. Create a Work Breakdown Structure

A Work Breakdown Structure or WBS is a graphical representation of the hierarchy of the project. The WBS forces the project team to think through all levels of the project and identify the major tasks that need to be performed for the project to be completed on time. By starting with the end objective and then successively subdividing it into manageable steps or components in terms of size, duration, and responsibility, the WBS provides a high level view of the entire project. Furthermore, the framework makes planning and controlling the scope of the project much easier since you have a graphical chart to reference point for the tasks and subtasks needed for each phase of the project. As a general rule of thumb, no task within the WBS should be less than 8 hours or more than 80 hours.

4. Verify the Scope and Get Feedback

Because projects are expected to meet strict deadlines, verifying the scope of the project is critical before and during the project cycle. Scope verification can be done after each major task or phase is completed or if it is a smaller project, after the project has been completed. To verify the scope, meet with the project customer or stakeholder and get him/her to formally accept the project deliverables. This includes getting a written acceptance of the deliverables and requesting feedback on the work performed.

Getting feedback from the customer is an excellent way for you to improve processes and make sure the customer is happy with your work and the status of the project. The most important thing here is to communicate well and often. Verifying the scope and getting feedback will help you focus on customer acceptance, quality control, and verifying that work performed meets the definition of the scope of the project.

5. Monitor and Control the Scope

Now that the Scope has been clearly defined, a work breakdown structure has been organised, and the customer has formally accepted the scope of the project, it is time to actually manage and control the scope to avoid scope creep. Scope creep refers to the incremental expansion of the scope of the project, which may include and introduce more requirements that may not have been a part of the initial planning phases, but add costs and time to the original project.

To effectively monitor and control the scope of the project, make sure you have an established process for managing change requests. Any and all requests should be vetted and approved before they get introduced into the project. The budget and schedule of the project should also be altered to reflect the new changes. These changes should get a formal sign-off from the customer or key stakeholder before proceeding. It is important that you closely monitor and control the scope to avoid disgruntled customers, higher than expected costs, and projects that aren't completed on time.


Comments

Be the first to comment on this article.

Add a comment



(never displayed)



 
1500
What is the sum of 1 + 2 + 3?
Notify me of new comments via email.
Remember my form inputs on this computer.

Project Management Maturity Model

Five maturity levels concept

The concept of a project management maturity model has evolved considerably from the software industry. Where does your organisation sit on the maturity model?

Work Breakdown Structure Made Easy

Work Breakdown Structure

The Work Breakdown Structure is a deliverable-oriented, hierarchical decomposition of the work to be completed by a project team.

PMP Exam Day Tips

PMI logo

Tips for passing the PMP Exam that should help calm your nerves and ensure success.

My Budget is 10% Over, Now What?

10 percent red wood sign with golden background

Suffering a budget overrun? Here's three key things you can do mid-stream on a project to help get the budget back in line with the original plan.

PROJECT SMART is the project management resource that helps managers at all levels improve their performance. We provide an important knowledge base for those involved in managing projects of all kinds. With weekly exclusive updates, we keep you in touch with the latest project management thinking.

WE ARE CONNECTED ~ Follow us on social media to get regular updates and opinion on what's happening in the world of project management.


Latest Comments

John Tichaona Muhonde commented on…
How to Avoid Project Burnout
- Wed 24 August 5:15pm

Vaska Ramanska commented on…
How to Report Status on a Project
- Sun 7 August 11:23am

Duncan commented on…
PMP vs. PRINCE2 Certificates
- Sat 6 August 11:36am

Latest tweets

General Project Management • Re: Which are the best learning resources to prepare for PMP exam? https://t.co/AlZd7X6vse #pm #projectsmart about 1 day ago

General Project Management • Which are the best learning resources to prepare for PMP exam? https://t.co/kcJEdQZUmL #pm #projectsmart about 1 day ago

General Project Management • Re: PRINCE2 - Studying and Preparing for Practitioner Exam https://t.co/PI18HeZwVR #pm #projectsmart about 2 days ago