When you start working on a new project, one of the most important things you need to do is actually understand what the main aim of the project is. This may sound completely obvious but even experienced project managers and teams sometimes just crack on and don’t take the time to understand the project scope. Since we know that scope creep is a major source of project failure it makes sense to pause and consider what is needed and why.
Here are some key questions you need to ask about the project scope before you start planning.
Who will define the project scope?
The first thing you need to do is talk to the project sponsor and the stakeholders to find out who is the right person(s) to define the project details. Once you know this, you can start fleshing out the requirements using techniques such as brainstorming, interviewing and mind mapping. Using a mind mapping process to define the scope is a common approach.
Who is going to approve the scope of the project?
The person with the power to approve the scope needs to be clearly assigned that responsibility so they can make decisions when there are several options. This could be the project sponsor or one of the stakeholders and they may also need to arbitrate when there is a conflict.
What are the project objectives?
Next, you need to get to the big picture. What does the customer want to achieve by embarking on this project? After all, you wouldn’t get in a car and drive without a destination, would you? Once you know where you are going, it will be a lot easier for you to get there.
How will you know once you have achieved the project goals?
Having objectives is one thing, but how are you going to know when you have achieved them? This is your chance to talk about how the end result is going to look and feel – defining what success looks like will always help you achieve it.
Is there any flexibility?
When it comes to any project, no matter the brief, there are always three key, interdependent factors: project budget, project scope and schedule. These three components need to work in harmony for success to be achieved, and this is why you need to find out if there is any flexibility in any of these factors. Basically, you need to know what is most important out of all three parts. If quality is the most important, then there will be no flexibility with the scope but there may be some flexibility with time and cost.
If you ask yourself those five key questions regarding your project scope, you should be able to fully understand the project scope and you will have the right foundations for project success, no matter how large or small the project you’re taking on. Diving right in without giving the project scope the extensive consideration and discussion it needs is a recipe for disaster.