- Parthenon Software Group
No matter how you look at it, project development is an undertaking. Sure, some projects will be easier than others, but all have their own challenges. One such challenge is that of scope. Understandably, scope is an integral piece of project development especially since the lack of scope can lead to detrimental scope creep. Obviously, a project taking longer and costing more is not an ideal for any party involved. However, if happens more times than you might think. So how do you avoid falling victim to such an adverse situation? You clearly and succinctly define the scope of your project.
From the get-go it's important to determine what scope is. The general consensus is that scope encompasses the work needed in order to deliver a product, service or result with specified features and functions.
That seems a bit broad, don't you think?
More specifically, scope refers to the documentation of project goals, tasks, costs, deadlines and deliverables.
Now that we have that down, what all do you need to know and do before starting on defining the extent of the work to be done?
First and foremost, identify and define the problem you want to solve/address. This will aid in offering a clear starting point for the project. What kind of solutions are available now? Can current systems handle the solution or are they antiquated? Obviously, this part of the process is all about determining project needs. Another important thing to do is to identify and define the needs of end users and stakeholders. Doing this will enable you to create a list of minimum functionalities.
Secondly, set the boundaries of the project. What falls within the boundaries ie, what is absolutely necessary? Moreover, what falls outside the boundaries ie, what isn't necessary? You could also count this piece as determining the need to haves, the nice to haves and the unnecessaries.
And thirdly, think about strategy. At this point you've determined your project needs and sorted through requirements. Now is the time to think about how you're going to reach the end goal. Think about the nuts and bolts that will go into your project and find the best resources to use ie database/s, tech stack, programming language, etc.
The actions above may seem pretty simple, but be prepared to spend some time and effort researching and discussing the full extent of the project.
That may seem like a lot, but you're setting the launching point, boundaries and ending for the entire project. In keeping, it's important keep some key considerations in mind when going through the process.
Make sure everything is agreed upon by all involved parties. If you have stakeholders, you should be keeping them in the loop agree to the project process, objectives and so forth. Having everyone on board will make things easier for you as well as ensure that everyone is on the same page.
As I keep saying, the more specific the better. Why? So there's no confusion. Honestly, there are all kinds of connotations in the world. Being as specific as possible ensures that you get the meaning you want is taken the way you want it be and pursued and accomplished just as you want it.
Make sure things are measurable. Having measurable aspects means that you have a standard by which you can determine where things currently stand and what's needed to move forward.
Keep a realistic point of view. When it comes to a project, there can be a lot of ideas, but not all of them are realistic to your project and what you want to accomplish. What's going to work with the boundaries you've set as well as budget, timeline, etc?
Take your time. Too often people jump into the planning stage, but scope is a necessary prequel. Don't just make assumptions; actually know what you're planning and know the facts and figures of everything.
Another important aspect of scope is to understand the difference between goals and objectives. While the English language has us using them interchangeably, it's not always the case.
In terms of scope, goals and objectives represent different instances. In particular, completion of objectives leads to the fulfillment of goals. In other words, objectives are the precise actions that need to be performed in order to reach the ultimate goal; the completion of the project.So, you use the objectives (milestones, etc) to attain the goal.
All in all, having good scope documentation means that you can operate on a more accurate level. Not only can you get a more exact understanding of the project itself, you also can get a better idea of the cost and duration of the project. What it comes down to is whether you would rather have an estimate based on a guess (albeit an educated guess), or an estimate based on fact?
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