It is more important than ever before to clearly define and manage the scope of a project. The art of management accomplishes exactly this: it is the process by which an individual, called the project manager, ensures the execution of only those tasks that contribute to the project’s successful completion.

Management of the scope of a project is a nuanced art!

Here are the 10 best practices for effective management of the scope of a project:

1. Define your project management goals:

  • Before you start your project, it is important to accumulate all data and information that is central to the project.
  • Clearly identify all project goals and understand the requirements of the project stakeholders.
  • The project manager must then match the resources and constraints at hand with the actual requirements.

2. Sift out the scope:

  • Once the requirements of a project have been clearly identified and stated, it is time for the project scope to be identified: the deadlines, deliverables, and budget.
  • This process involves studying all tasks that are a part of the project and identifying those that are essential to project success.
  • Tasks that are unimportant need to be eliminated and removed from the project chain.

3. Draw the Work Breakdown Structure:

  • A WBS (Work Breakdown Structure) is just another name for a graphical representation of the various processes that need to be executed to ensure the project’s successful completion within the set deadlines.
  • Once a WBS is available to all team members, it is easier to make sense of the entire workflow and control the scope of the project.

4. Scope verification:

  • This is one of the most important practices for project management.
  • The scope verification step is undertaken at the beginning of the project as well as during the project execution phase.
  • Catch up with the stakeholders and make sure they know the deliverables and accept them formally.

Graphic tools help build an understanding of the scope

5. Feedback! Feedback!:

  • Scope verification ensures you stay in touch with the stakeholders, but it is also important to seek constant feedback.
  • Get feedback from the customers so you could keep improving the efficiency.
  • Effective communication is the key- make sure you communicate often with your customers! This also ensures a strict control over quality, which is crucial to the success of the project.

6. Keep monitoring the scope:

  • It is important to formally establish a process to monitor requests for change.
  • All requests for changes or modifications, however small they might be, need to pass through an approval phase before they are incorporated into the project cycle.

7. Assess the feasibility:

  • Make sure you consider the feasibility of the project: Can the requisite deliverables be delivered with the required quality within the set deadlines?
  • Split up each deliverable into smaller components and factor the costs of each component to evaluate the project feasibility given the constraints and resources at hand.

8. Watch out for scope creep!:

  • It is easy enough to accept change requests in the midst of the project cycle only to discover the detrimental impact they have on the project- ‘scope creep’.
  • Make sure you strictly evaluate any requests for changes in the scope before accepting them.
  • Even seemingly small changes that appear to have a negligible impact on the project can add up and significantly disrupt the project functioning together.

Evaluate the impact a change request will have upon the project

9. Manage risks well:

  • Project management inevitably involves risks; it is important to identify risks first though.
  • Evaluate the probability of occurrence of each individual risk event.
  • High risks, medium risks, and low risks need to be segregated and evaluated individually.

10. Problem resolution:

  • A real issue is one that has a sense of urgency associated with it; other issues might simply be risks that could be resolved in the course of time.
  • An issue though, needs immediate resolution by the project manager who must work on eliminating them with a lot of diligence.

Plan well, plan ahead!

Management of the scope of a project can indeed make or break a project, for the success of a project depends largely on the way the project is scoped and planned. A careful, realistic and diligent approach is the key to a successful outcome.