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How to Define the Scope of a Project and Its Importance

The Scope of a Project

helloquence-61189-unsplashIf you're planning a new project, such as a new app or a new website, it's a good idea to define the scope of your project. By defining the scope of your project, you'll have a much clearer picture of how big the project will be, and what will be the specific project goals, functions, features, deliverables, tasks, deadlines, and costs. Here we present a breakdown of the importance of defining the scope of your project and how to do so effectively.

 

Why Is it Necessary?

The simple answer is that defining the scope of your project helps to ensure that everyone who is involved is on the same page. When the scope of your project is clearly defined and documented, it should help to establish clear project goals, provide a clear understanding of the project, manage expectations, set realistic timelines, assign the proper resources, get your management and team to buy in to the project, reduce any ambiguities concerning the project, reduce risks (such as miscommunication), and establish quality and evaluation criteria.


Processes Involved in a Project

Your project's scope should be accurately defined and mapped out so that your project managers will be able to allocate the proper resources to successfully complete the project. This is done with project scope management. The three main processes involved in project scope management follow:


Planning

First, outline everything that will go into the planning of the project. This means defining all of the work that will need to be done to produce a successful app or website design.

Monitoring

Your project will become easier to monitor if you have a clearly defined project scope. It will be particularly helpful when it comes to potential scope creep. Scope creep occurs when requirements change over the course of development. For example, maybe you were planning an app that had two major features, but over the course of development that changed to four. Scope creep isn't always bad (changes do tend to happen no matter what), but it's important to plan for it since it can cause budgetary issues. However, a clearly defined project scope can help you avoid significant scope creep.

Closing

Using your documented project scope, you'll be able to audit the deliverables of your project as well as assess the final outcome of your project by comparing it to the original plan outlined in your project scope.

 

How to Define it Effectively

The more effectively the scope of your project is defined, the more successful your planning, monitoring, and closing processes will be. Take these steps to clearly define the scope of your project;


Set a Tangible Organizational Objective

Job one is to establish the objectives of your project. This could be the development of new software, the redesign of your website, the production of a new product, upgrade your company's internal software, or any number of other things. In addition to establishing this main objective, there will be any number of objectives that could be important to any given project. Clearly defining all of your objectives in the beginning determines how project methodologies will be applied.


Involve the Correct Stakeholders

The last thing you want is for stakeholders to become confused as the project goes on due to differing assumptions being made and poor communication. To avoid this, make sure that the correct stakeholders are closely involved with various stages of the project scope.

 

Identify the Project Needs

Identifying the project needs allows you to set benchmarks from the beginning. This includes establishing a budget as well as setting a time period.

Set a Budget for Costs

Next, establish your project's budget. The more resources your project requires and the longer it takes to finish the project, the more it will cost. Breaking down the budget to allocate funds to different parts of the project will make it easier to monitor the progress of the project and whether or not you're under, at, or over budget at any point in the development process.

Set a Time Period to Complete

Determine how long it should take for the project to be completed and establish a deadline for the completion of the project. You may also want to establish deadlines for certain deliverables or tasks. This allows you to monitor your project's process and will give you a better understanding of whether your project is on track to be completed on time.

 

Identify the Product Requirements

Be as specific as possible when it comes to identifying the requirements of your product. Never make assumptions that your team knows exactly what to do. List out the exact features and functions that the project should have. Detail any specifics, such as branding guidelines. Address these product requirements early on:

Deliverables

List the internal and external deliverables of your project. These are the things that the project should deliver to the user as well as the things that the project generates itself.

Functionality and Data

List all of the project's functionality and data capabilities. This can be done in an outline form.

Technical Structure

Use a table or diagram to define where the project is focused on infrastructure. Be sure to identify the purpose of each component as well.


Identify the Process Requirements

Process requirements refer to how people will interact with your software application or website (or whatever product you're developing) and how that product will interact with other business processes. For example, describe how data will be moved and how business transactions will flow from one point to another (such as the billing transactions within a website and how those transactions are linked to invoicing and accounts). Be sure to identify sub-phases and tasks here as well.


Expectations and Acceptance

Establish what the customers' expectations of the project will be and at what point they will accept your product. This means taking into account the end-users satisfaction by factoring in the product's value, price, quality, and availability--and even delivery and return policies. Your goal here is to create an acceptable quality level that your project must meet.


Identify the Limitations

In addition to clearly defining the scope of your project, also clearly define what's out of scope for a project. Spell out in detail what will not be included in the project. For example, if you're creating a website and you don't want an e-commerce page, make sure that this is noted. By defining what's out of scope, you'll prevent mistakes from being made out of assumption. If out of scope tasks are performed, it will hurt your budget and potentially set back your timeline.


Identify Constraints

Predict any potential roadblocks your project might run into over the course of its development. For example, a limited budget, environmental factors, or certain technological glitches. By mentioning potential challenges such as these in the scope of your project, your team can be more prepared to overcome such challenges if they face them, helping to reduce delays and prevent the project from going over budget.


Change Management Functions

Avoiding scope creep is ideal, but change is often unavoidable. In the event that changes do occur, be sure that disagreements among stakeholders are avoided by implementing strict change management processes.


More Tips

When defining the scope of your project, focus on these key points:

  1. Avoiding Ambiguity - Avoid ambiguity as much as possible. It can lead to confusion as well as unnecessary work, which can cause delays and budgetary issues.
  2. Avoiding an Incomplete Definition - The definition of your project's scope needs to be thorough and accurate. If it's incomplete in any way, it can result in schedule slips, and will likely cause you to go over budget.
  3. Avoiding Transience - Transience leads to scope creep. Avoid this by finalizing the document detailing the scope of your project. The scope of your project isn't supposed to be altered over the course of development, it's meant to be final.
  4. Collaboration - Don't create the scope of your project on your own. Prepare it collaboratively with the project's stakeholders to help avoid misinterpretations in the project's requirements and design.

 

Conclusion

If you're redesigning a website, creating a new software solution, building a new app, or even updating internal software, it's important that you document the scope of your project in a clearly defined manner. Doing so will help ensure that the project's requirements are met and that it's finished on time and within budget.

 

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