A Beginner’s Journey into the World of Project Scope Management

Project Scope Management - TaskQue Blog

“To create a big company, you need more partners, as it is hard to handle such a project alone. Such projects bring access to the expertise and management resources of the partners, and their connections above all.”

Vladimir Potanin – Russian Businessman and Entrepreneur

While change is an important and compulsory part of any project, the project scope management refers to the process of managing the scope changes. It is done primarily to make certain the project will be completed on time and within the allotted budget.

I understand that this article will be read by many students and people in general who are not aware of even the basic knowledge about project, scope and how it is managed. So I will start right from the scratch to gradually explain in detail the topic of Project Scope Management, its significance, processes, templates, scope creeping, etc. to give you a complete picture.

Definition of Scope

In literal terms, scope is the extent of the area or subject matter that something deals with or to which it is relevant. When we refer to project management, scope can be divided into two distinct uses: Project Scope and Product Scope.

Project Scope: The project scope is simply the work that needs to be done to deliver a product, service or result with the specified features and functions. It is related to the work orientation.

Product Scope: It refers to the features and functions that characterize a product, service or result. It refers to the functional requirements.

Significance of Scope

Defining the scope of a project can be termed as one of the most critical aspects in successfully initiating a project. The above illustration easily express this fact as all the work oriented or how each process will perform its duties is described in the scope management. Also “the what” needs to be done in order to start off a project and making sure everything is perfectly in place.

In other words, no matter what a project is designed to do, it is imperative that it should be defined and established as accurately as possible within the time frame. This is referred to scope of the project. Project scope is critical in the sense that it relates to making everything in place for achieving the desired success in the end.

Scope Management in Detail

Scope Management is the process whereby outputs, outcomes and benefits are identified, defined and controlled. The scope management is made up of six significant areas that work in complete harmony to identify, define and control the scope:

  • Solutions Development take the stakeholder’s requirements and explores how they may be fulfilled to provide the best value.
  • Benefits Management take requirements that have been expressed in terms of benefits and manages them through their eventual delivery.
  • Change Management Deals with the transformation of business-as-usual that is important to make use of outputs and realize benefits.
  • Change Control is a mechanism for capturing and assessing potential changes to scope. It guarantees that only beneficial changes are made.
  • Configuration Management monitors and documents the development of products. It makes it certain that approved changes are recorded and previous versions are archived.

The extent to which detailed requirements and solutions can be predicted at the start of the project, will impact how scope is managed. There are scenarios where the objective is well comprehended and has a tangible output (civil engineering, for example) it is usual to define the scope as accurately as possible at the beginning of the life cycle. This markedly lessens the level of changes that are required and thus keeps costs from escalating.

When the objective is less tangible or radical changes are expected, (business change, for example) a more flexible approach to scope is required. Another key aspect in managing the scope of work is to maximize value for money. The discipline of value management brings together an important set of processes and techniques that operate throughout the six areas mentioned at the start of this section.

Project Scope Management Processes

The knowledge area of Project Scope Management is comprised of following processes as listed in the above illustration. Let me write down all of the 6 processes for easy reference and then briefly define all of them.

  1. Plan Scope Management Process
  2. Collective Requirements Process
  3. Define Scope Process
  4. Create WBS Process
  5. Validate Scope Process
  6. Control Scope Process

Scope Management Process

This is the first process in the process scope management. This process creates the scope management plan. The scope management plan describes the project scope and documents how it can be further defined, validated and controlled.

Please refer to the table below where you can see the inputs, tools, techniques and Outputs of the plan scope management process.

Collective Requirements Process

The featured process deals with the documentation of the stakeholders’ needs with the emphasis on meeting the project’s objectives. In the process, the use of several techniques and tools by the managers for collecting project is the requirement from stakeholders. The process looks to capitalize every aspect resulting in an in-depth list of project requirements.

The table below shows the Inputs, Tools and Techniques and the outputs of the Collect Requirements Process.

Define Scope Process

This process involves the preparation of a detailed description of the project and the key deliverable. The scope in clear terms state that what the project is supposed to achieve and what it cannot. The supporting documents are reviewed to make certain the project will deliver work in line with the stated goals. The scope that results in declaring the stakeholders’ needs and communicate the expectancy for the performance of the project.

See the table below for Inputs, Tools and Techniques and Outputs of the Defining process.

Create Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

The WBS is a key element as skipping this part can lead to inaccurate plans. WBS provides the project manager and the team with the chance to break down a high-level scope statement to smaller, manageable units of work called packages. The resulting WBS must provide a complete list of all work packages required to complete the project.

Take a look at the table below showing the Inputs, Tools and Techniques and Outputs of the WBS process.

Scope Verification Process

The validate scope process focuses on customer acceptance. It denotes the point where the client formally accepts the project deliverable. This process occurs at the end of each phase. In this process, the customer gives their feedback on the work that was performed.

The table you can see below shows the Inputs, Tools and Techniques and Outputs of the Scope Verification Process.

Control Scope Process

This process is related with the checking of additional requirements from the customer or looking proactively the project scope. Managers will measure the work product against the scope baseline to ensure that the project is on track to prevent any unnecessary changes.

Checkout the table below for Inputs, Tools and Techniques and Outputs of the Scope Control Process.

Scope Creeping

The term Scope Creep in Project Management is referred to changes, continuous or uncontrolled growth in a project scope. This can happen at any time once the project has commenced. It usually occurs when the scope of the project isn’t explicitly defined, documented or controlled. It is considered harmful for the project for a number of reasons. It can be a result of various factors. Some of them are:

  • Poor Change Control
  • Lack of Proper Identification of what is required to bring about the project objectives
  • Weak project manager or executive sponsor
  • Poor communication between parties
  • Lack of initial product versatility

The scope creep also happens because one part of a project spurs an idea to do something else or to add onto what is already being done. The project creeps larger and larger until it is properly addressed. Scope creep is considered a risk by most project managers and can result in cost overrun.

Avoiding Scope Creeping

Preventing scope creep is a task which that the project manager especially should take care of. Following are 3 of the best ways through which a scope creep can be avoided.

Hire the Right People for the Job

The first step in this regard should be the hiring of the expert project manager and an experienced team too. Project manager should have necessary knowledge of task management tools like TaskQue. The PM and the team needs to look at the project and analyze all its aspects critically so as to find any grey area that can turn into scope creep.

Clear Communication

A two-way communication channel should be established between the project team and the client. Both parties should be fully aware of what to expect from each other and able to communicate everything at the earliest. In this way, scope creep will be easier to handle and can be controlled before affecting the project.

Constantly Learn and Iterate

The role of the project manager again comes into play by making sure he knows the latest trends in the market and has ample knowledge about every aspect which can lead to scope creep. That’s why he also needs to iterate concerning the last time he coped up with the scope creep and sharpen his skills in this regard.

Final Words

Project Scope Management is a vast field and needs an expert person in the form of a project manager and an experienced team to deal with all the aspects and factors mentioned in this blog. I hope the beginners in this field will find this blog easy to understand.