Risk Management

Project Scope: How Rigid Is Too Rigid?

A scope should not be too general, but shouldn’t be overly specific at the same time—what a headache. It is up to each project manager to establish and define what the scope for her or his project is. However, there are certain rules that are applicable for all successful projects. According to Ben Aston in a post for the Digital Project Manager, project managers should do the following things:

  1. Be clear about the scope.
  2. Document it.
  3. Be flexible with it.

Loosen the Rope

Anticipate for changes in scope following different stages of your project. Your scope is not a signed contract that you share with your team and your clients, so you must be flexible with it and adapt to the needs of clients. Your projects may change, as very few clients are easy-going enough to accept everything you plan and produce from the beginning to the end, unless they don’t care at all. The best thing is to have a specific scope but keep a ready-to-react attitude to all situations.

You also need to be able to convey that scope clearly to your team and clients. Don’t show off your knowledge by using jargon or specialized terms that impede others from processing and understanding your intentions. In case your team needs to be reminded of the scope, or you want to keep track of if things are still conducted within the scope, write it down. Do anything that makes it easier for you to come back and interpret it later.

Aston goes on to explain why it can be helpful to strategically leave some wiggle room in your scope:

  • Positive discussions between the agency and the client about what’s meant and what’s really required or important
  • A shared understanding of how the scope relates to the project’s overall objectives
  • Better project karma because of the conversations you’ll have
  • Opportunities to educate and inform the client when it comes to areas they’re less familiar with

In terms of how best to persuade a client or stakeholder that a looser scope might be appropriate, I think it very much depends on what role they fulfill within their organization and the strength and longevity of the relationship between your two organizations.

As is often the case, a mix of experience and gut instinct will probably be your guide in deciding which parts of the scope to keep loose. You can view the original post here: http://www.thedigitalprojectmanager.com/project-scope-black-white-or-shades-of-grey/

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