The initial project scope defined in the project plan is the conceptual vision of what the project will deliver upon completion. Seems simple, right? But when we start to plan the project there needs to be several interviews with the sponsor and key stakeholders. Each one of them has their vision for what the project should accomplish. This gets added, that gets added, and pretty soon you have a big hairy monster on your hands. And, one that needs a serious haircut, not just a little trim off the top.
The project management leader is responsible for amassing this single vision. A vision with little ambiguity that can be realistically accomplished and accepted by all parties involved. Most folks think the key to defining a clear scope is to describe it in minute detail. But, that’s hard to do at the start of a project during the planning phase. Adding additional clarity to the project scope can only be accomplished through contrasting. Here’s an analogy to make the point clear.
A HDTV screen’s quality is determined by its resolution and contrast. Its resolution is the number of pixels that make up the screen.
Everyone today knows that HDTV is better than the older tube TV and it’s because you have twice the number of pixels in HDTV. This gives the picture its detail/resolution.
Contrast is the second contributor to screen quality and is the difference between how bright a white illuminated pixel is compared to a blank pixel. That is why plasma screens are better than LCD screens; they have greater contrast. This gives the picture its crispness.
Since the level of detail or resolution that can be obtained for the project scope at the start of the project is limited, the only way to improve the quality of your project scope definitions is to work on its contrast.
Document what is not a part of the project and in as much detail document what is in a project’s scope. Add an inclusions/exclusions category to the project plan to do so. This will bring out all the points of contention related to your project’s scope.
You see, people have the tendency to assume you meant to include what they wanted in your scope definition, even if you don’t specifically include it. If you specifically state that the project is not going to include some aspect of scope and someone disagrees with you, you are now able to resolve the issue and create one vision.
Next time you are defining the project scope in the beginning of a project, remember to make it crispy. Focus on both resolution and contrast. You will reduce ambiguity and have a better chance of meeting stakeholders’ expectation at project completion.
For more ways to improve your project management skills and your project scope, contact a performance improvement company like Systemation. Systemation provides customized project management training courses aimed to help you enhance your skills and improve your performance.