Here are Five Practical Tips to Manage Project Scope

Sunday, April 10, 2016, 6:00 AM | Leave Comment

When you tell your sponsor you want to manage scope well on this project, the sponsor will often think “oh no. That means we can never change anything.” But that is not the case.

You know that things change on a project and the longer your project is, the more likely you will have changes.

Managing scope means that you recognize a change in scope has occurred and you manage the change proactively.

Use these five tips to help you manage scope.

Here are Five Practical Tips to Manage Project Scope

  1. Set it in concrete

    Sounds simple, but the first step is to define the scope of the project in detail. What is the scope of the project? There are three major elements of scope.

    At a high level, you need to understand the project deliverables – the things you are going to build. You also need to know the boundaries of what is in-scope and what is out-of-scope.

    Lower-level scope are the deliverable requirements. These three elements – deliverables, boundaries and requirements – make up the overall product scope.

  2. Plan for scope change

    Create a scope management plan in your project planning phase. This does not have to be a 15 page document. You just need to know how you will manage scope changes and make sure your sponsor agrees with the process.

  3. Make sure you know the project impact as well as the benefit

    Often we receive scope change requests that explain the benefits of the change. When we take this to the sponsor the sponsor will very likely say yes, since all they see is the benefits. They don’t see the impact to the project.

    It is usually the case that scope changes require more work – and this can lead to an impact on schedule and budget. But don’t stop there.

    Often scope changes will increase project risk. They may have staffing implications. They may impact vendors (procurements). The key is to identify the total impact to your project in all elements of project management.

  4. Recognize changes

    Often the project manager and project team do not recognize when a change has occurred. This is a sign of scope creep. These are small incremental changes that we either do not recognize as scope changes, or we choose to ignore them because they are small.

    But all scope changes should be recognized and taken through your scope management process. Small changes may have their own simple process for evaluation and approval, but all of the changes need to be managed.

  5. Document all changes – even the small ones

    Every time your customer changes deliverables, boundaries or requirements, make sure that you document the change and then review the impact of that change.

    Each changes does not need a separate scope change form, but all changes should be documented in the scope change log. Then you will be sure that your initial scope, plus your scope change log, will be reflected in the final deliverables.

    If you take verbal scope changes without documenting them, there will be a gap between the agreed scope and your final solution that may be difficult to explain.

Define the scope at the outset, monitor changes and make sure you follow your scope change process.

It’s that simple.

Courtesy of…

This column is © copyright to and originally appeared in their weekly project management tip newsletter.

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