Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Why Should We Manage Scope And Costumer Expectation?

Why Should We Manage Scope And Costumer Expectation?

In project management the term scope has two instinct uses they are project scope and product scope.The work that needs to be accomplished to deliver a product service or result with the specified features and functions is called project scope.The features and functions that characterize a product, service or result is called product scope.Scope management plan is one of the scope communications documents. The project scope management plan documents how the project scope will be defined, managed, controlled, verified and communicated to the project team and stakeholders. It also includes all works required to complete the project.

The important of scope management:

Scope management becomes one of the key activities once the project has entered the execution stage. I did a lot of discussion with my friends and others experts regarding the appropriateness of the scope management process on various projects. Some of them complained that their customers have treated the scope management process with the certain degree of hostility and their management is convinced that the procedure contradicts the best practices of customers satisfactions.while it is practically impossible to provide everyone with a universal framework that would fit the needs of any projects and i believe that the principles discussed in this article are applicable to all ventures, large and small, simple and sophisticated.The only difference would be the degree of formality associated with this methodology. On a small endeavor all the principles discussed below can remain at the verbal level with probably one summary exchanged between the parties.On the other hand on a very complicated mega projects there would be a lot documentation, formal meetings and sometimes sophisticated negotiations accompanying every change request.Consequently here we are targeting somewhere in between projects with as assumption that an experienced project manager would be able to fine tune the degree of formality to the project where he is working.
Managing Scope and stakeholder Expectations
One of the project scooping that i knew very recently contained a very interesting phrase.The difference between disappointment and delight is not a maters of delivery but of how well delivery matches the client's expectations. Therefore controlling customer's expectation is one of the key success factors, especially once the project has left the planning stage behind and entered the execution phase.There are several reasons behind the necessity to limit the stakeholders expectations. First because no matters how good one is at capturing and documenting project scope, no matters how many times team has inspected and peer reviewed the project documents, there will always be omissions, mistakes and errors.Since nobody on the project team is perfect the customer should be psychologically ready to accept that certain imperfection will rear their heads as we progress through the execution stage.A straightforward communication of this simple fact should limit stakeholder's expectations in a healthy way.

People and the project customers in particular are not always logical.To make this clear we can consider a time in our life when we or our significant other has saved a coupon from a hotel or restaurant chain to obtain a significant discount at the said business only to discover upon arrival that the coupon was valid only at participating outlets.On one hand especially from a legal standpoint this situation is completely the customer's fault.After all, he or she was expected to read the entire documents and arrive at proper conclusions.On the other hand however did the chain do a particularly great job of managing customer's expectations?Probably not since it doesn't take an experienced psychologist to know that the vast majority of people have a short attention span when it comer to marketing media and trends to ignore the small font at the bottom or on the reverse side of the coupons.

So we should remember that being logically or even legally correct is not the same making the customers happy.Some of the project managers including the author of this article like to include a section to the project management documents to explicitly state the features that will be excluded from the project scope.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

How Should The Project Manager Deal With Scope Creep?

Every project should have a set of deliverable an assigned budget and an expected closure time.There are agreed upon requirements and tasks to complete prior to the closure of project.These constitute the scope of the project. Any amount of variation in the scope of project can affect the schedule budget and in turn the success of project.How Should The Project Manager Deal With Scope Creep?
Scoping is the separation between what in included in and what is excluded from project. Scope creep occurs when the line is moved, usually outwards. Thus what was excluded is now included making a project in most cases larger.Scope creep is adding features and functionality without addressing the effects on time, costs, and resources or without customer approval.This phenomenon can occur when the scope of the project is not properly defined, documented and controlled.It is generally considered a negative occurrence that is to be avoided.

As my experience numbers of projects that failed due to the scope creep.We were not able to find out any formal statistics to refer to but we noted that majority of those projects failed due some form of scope creep.We should know one thing that a project may fail anytime it is over budget or does not meet the predetermined schedule deadline.

Scope creep can originate from:
  • Poor implementation of change control.

  • Incomplete gathering of requirements before the beginning of project execution.

  • Insufficient involvement of critical stakeholder.

  • Lack of support from the executive sponsor.
Scope creep can be classified as:
  • Technical scope creep.

  • Business scope creep.
The technical scope creep can show up when the project team wants to please the customers ans is not able to reject the customer's request for a change in the requirements during project execution.Gold plating is another reason which can cause technical scope creep. In this case the project team adds additional features and functionality that are not part of original requirements in order to please the customer.

The business scope creep occurs due to external forces that may be beyond the control of project manager.An example might be the continual changes in market trends which makes previously defined requirements .One can avoid scope creep by managing the scope of project effectively. There are a number of ways to control or avoid scope creep.They are as follows.

  • Involve the costumer and the end users early in the project.

  • Introduce a change control board team that would evaluate the risk of implementing the changes.

  • Make sure to involve critical stakeholders throughout the project phases.

  • Avoid gold plating and gain the ability to refuse changes in requirements with proper reasons and support

  • In extreme cases stop the project so that the new additional requirements can be properly scoped and integrated rather than tacked on.

Here we need to make two additional points. They are explained as follows. We need to be careful not to confuse scope creep with progressive elaboration.Progressive elaboration means developing the product in steps and continuing by increments. For example during early strategic planning when information is less defined work packages may be decomposed to the milestone level.As more is known about the upcoming events in the near term they can be decomposed into activities.

Secondly we need to note that the idea of scope creep has evolved in scrum. The product catalog is dynamic and it changes throughout the software product development life cycle as long as the customer feels that those changes add value to the project and accept the responsibilities for them. At the same time every attempt is made to make sure that scope within each scrum sprint is strictly enforced. This evolution of scope creep in scrum does represent some interesting problems which are beyond the scope of this articles.