Poor Project Scope Management Practices could lead to Project Failure

Poor Project Scope Management Practices could lead to Project Failure
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Sandeep Sehgal

Published on December 4, 2012


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What is Scope

When we wear project manager’s hat, defining and planning a project is our job. The first step in successfully managing a project is properly defining and planning. Defining scope is perhaps the most important part of the upfront process of defining a project. The purpose of defining scope is to clearly describe and gain agreement on the logical boundaries of your project. Scope statements are used to define what is within the boundaries of the project and what is outside those boundaries.I have seen many project managers, who would not know for sure what they’re delivering and what the boundaries of the project are, they have little or no chance for success. Managing scope is one of the most critical aspects of managing a project. However, if you have not done a good job of defining scope, managing scope will be almost impossible.

Why is Project Scope Change Management Important?

There are three good reasons why scope management must be a top priority for the successful project manager:

Cost

The project manager is responsible for cost, schedule and quality. Each scope change can affect work that has been already performed. This means rework costs for work that has already started or worse, been completed.

Schedule

Each scope change can lead to diversion of, precious project resources to activities that were not identified in the original project scope, leading to pressure on the project schedule. The project manager must also consider impact on the project’s critical path.

Quality

For product quality each change needs to be analyzed thoroughly and incorporated in product design. When not analyzed thoroughly, scope changes lead to quick fixes that can affect product quality.

Tips and Techniques for Proper Change Management

Let me provide you with helpful tips and techniques for keeping scope change on track:

Proactive Change Management

In every project scope changes are waiting to happen, so the project manager should take an active role in identifying these changes with stakeholders. By being proactive, the project manager can incorporate the vital few changes that account for 80% of the stakeholders’ issues and concerns.

Seek Sponsors Approval

When changes are coming, the project manager should always get the sponsor’s approval and buy-in for the change request before authorizing any related work. If it is difficult to have the sponsor review every change, ask him/her to review a set of change requests. Alternatively, the change can be classified as routine or in need of further analysis.

Thorough Impact Analysis

During the project everyone would be pressed with time and this might lead to conduct a superficial change impact analysis; however the repercussions are not very pleasant. An impact analysis needs to consider all the configuration items that will be affected by the change and associated costs.

Always Communicate Changes

Project managers must ensure proper communication of change within / outside teams. In a large project team, changes can be overlooked if they are not communicated in a timely way. People like to know what they are working on and to be kept informed of project decisions. Proper team communications are essential to understanding and overcoming resistance to change.

Avoid Scope Creep

Scope creep in project management refers to uncontrolled changes or continuous growth in a project's scope. This phenomenon can occur when the scope of a project is not properly defined, documented, or controlled. It is generally considered a negative occurrence, to be avoided.Scope creep occurs when changes are allowed without proper impact analysis, and without reviewing schedule and cost implications. This is common with repetitive minor incremental adjustments, where the project budget and schedule are not kept in sync with the effort involved for the changes. In this scenario, there is no way to avoid a runaway project syndrome. Scope creep is a symptom of a process problem; the solution is to implement a process to track each change and control its implementation.

Happy learning! 

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About the Author

Sandeep Sehgal, PMP, Passed CISSP Exam, IBM Certified Sr. Project Manager, has 22 years industry experience. Currently he is Head Consulting and Training at Pallas Athena. He is a passionate trainer and consultant in the field of leadership/soft skills, project management and information security. Previously he has worked for Sify, IBM and CSC.


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