Defining what needs to be done to create or deliver a product or service is referred to as scope. Usually, the scope is defined in the planning stage of a project. However, this does not mean that once defined, it cannot be changed. There are certain situations that you can not predict in the early stages of the project. The stakeholder may discover a problem during the course of a project. Furthermore, some external factors, such as changes in market condition and government regulations may also be a reason behind scope change.
When it comes to managing scope change, the first important thing to do is have a positive mindset towards accepting the change. Although it is true that some scope change requests may be unreasonable, in many occasions a change is recommended to better the project quality. The best way to go about a change request is by analyzing its impacts on cost, schedule and quality of project. According to Rekha Narayan, part of the IT faculty at the Software Engineering Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, “The key to successful scope management lies in defining, communicating and reconciling emerging requests throughout the project lifecycle”.
Scope Change Management Tips
Following are fourimportant tips which will help you make an informed decision when managing scope change:
- Get sponsor’s approval
A request for scope change may come from end users, team members, project managers or clients who are directly or indirectly associated with the project. No matter who raises an issue for bringing about the change, the authority to approve remains with the sponsor. The sponsor funds the project; therefore, the outcome of the change is likely to affect him. The sponsor also has accountability for the success of the project. It is imperative to get the sponsor’s approval before implementing any change. Sponsors can often be very hard to get a hold of so make every minute you have with them count. Have all the facts and information ready before you speak with them so they are in a position to make an informed decision there and then.
- Communicate proactively
Many scope change management ventures fail due to lack of communication. The project manager should take a proactive role in communicating any change to the team members, whenever the opportunity arises. Discussing the change with team members and any involved parties helps in obtaining better input and improved involvement from the team, which eventually increases the chance of the project’s success.
- Analyze the impacts of the change
When analyzing the impact of the scope change, it’s important to consider factors, such as cost, schedule and quality. A scope change may involve a lot of rework costs. Furthermore, in order to meet newly set deadlines, you may require spending more resources or hiring professionals. You may also face problems in maintaining the quality of the project or service. So, you need to take into account all these factors when analyzing the impact of the scope change.
- Consider the sponsor’s perspective
Accepting every scope change request from the client is not compulsory. It is important to decline absurd requests for scope change even when they come from the company’s loyal clients. Accepting unreasonable requests does not mean that you are not client centric. On the contrary, when the project fails due to absurd scope change, you may be held responsible for that. Therefore, it is important to prioritize the sponsor’s interests. Sometimes you may need to say ‘no’ to the change requests for the good of the project and the business.
In a case where the scope change requires spending more time for the completion of the project, the manager needs to calculate the additional expenditure required for the delay. He should revise the project’s budget and schedule accordingly and discuss the matter with the sponsors and the clients.
Most importantly you need to have a clear and understood scope change process in place from day one.
You can get more tips on scope change control management in the Ultimate Project Success Guide. If you haven’t got yourself a free copy yet, what are you waiting for?
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