Scope Management

Over the next few weeks I’m conducting a series on developing a project dashboard that can give you a live snapshot of your project’s health.  As I mentioned last week, in order to develop a dashboard you need to collect metrics and organize them according to PMI’s 9 knowledge areas: scope, time, cost, quality, human resources, communication, procurement, risk, and integration.

Today I’m discussing scope.  In our PM Basics and PMP Exam Prep  courses we discuss in great detail, the cascading influence scope has on the other knowledge areas such as time, cost, and quality.  Unfortunately, scope is one of those things that tends to only hurt you and your project’s chances for success.  When is the last time your customer approached you wanting to reduce your project’s scope or increase it’s budget?  Never!  Instead, we project managers, are continually bombarded with requests to increase scope with no moderating change to the schedule, budget, or quality.  Managing these catch-22 situations is what this section is all about.  By collecting and managing a few signed documents you can manage scope creep and keep your project on schedule and within budget.

Executive Summary – Always remember who is paying for your project: YOUR PROJECT SPONSER!  Your executive summary needs to be quick and concise, and detail the business objectives of the project, followed by how the project will accomplish these objectives.  In this tight economy, resources are scarce.  Having an effective executive summary close by will help you to remind your executive why they committed to your project in the first place.

Project Scope Statement – This should be directly derived from your executive summary, and could be called your preliminary scope statement.  In one or two sentences, what is your project delivering?  This is more for those situations when you find yourself in meetings with negative stakeholders that are trying to undermine your objectives.

Major Milestones and Scheduled Dates – What are the top 5 to 10 milestones of your project?  If you’re operating under a waterfall methodology it’s going to be something like, plan, design, develop, test, deploy… Done and done!

Rough Order of Magnitude (ROM) Budget – From a similar high level perspective, this should be aggregated to the overall project budget, but should not be broken down granularly.  (e.g. Preliminary Design $$$$, Critical Design $$$$, Prototyping $$$$, Prototype Testing $$$$, Fabrication $$$$, Test $$$$, Total Cost $$$$).

Initial Organization – What engineering teams are involved? (e.g. aerodynamics, controls, software, electronics, CAD, testing, fabrication, structures)

Product Description – This will be more elaborate than your preliminary scope statement above, which includes work that is not directly deliverable (prototyping etc).  Here we’re looking for 100 to 300 words that get to the point of the product you’re delivering.

You should be able to put all of this together on a single page, as illustrated above.  Remember, scope can only hurt you, and is one of your greatest enemies at that.  As such, pay due diligence to managing scope and you’ll set yourself up for success.

Brandon Beemer, PhD, PMP

I would love to hear your feedback and topics that you would like me to cover in future articles: