We all know how it goes. A new client is on-boarded with the project manager, and discussions start around the completion and delivery of said project. Unfortunately, a lot of the key players that’ll do the work are possibly absent, and a small, select group holds a short and inefficient project scope management meeting to outline how a frighteningly vague deliverable will be completed with timelines that fit an economic calendar, not a real one. Then, over the intervening weeks and months, the project balloons in size and scope as everyone chimes in until you end up on the tail end of twice as much work for an expedited timeline you’ll never meet. Unfortunately, the result is that everyone walks away with a sour taste in their mouths and a story about where everything went wrong.
Sound familiar? It’s what happens to projects that lack a true leader or steward who is responsible for gathering all inputs, organizing them, and coming up with a comprehensive plan that is adaptable enough to change on a weekly, daily, or even hourly basis. After all, each project comes with its own unique set of challenges, requirements, and budgetary constraints. Having the correct understanding of the scope of a project is vital to the project’s overall success.
Project scope management is all about understanding everything that needs to happen for a project to be completed and planning out how that will be accomplished. When bumps or changes arise, project scope management also ensures that things stay organized, realistic, and consistent with the contracted budget and time constraints. An effective project manager must be able to help you keep that big project on track and under budget so that everyone else can focus on their tasks to contribute to the project.
What Is Project Scope Management?
One of the project manager’s primary duties is to define the project’s scope, which includes everything that’s needed to complete the project at hand. Generally, this involves budgets, resources, timelines, and deliverables—the project scope outlines who’s responsible for what and where it goes next. As the project wears on, it’s this original project scope that governs the pieces within, and the project manager is responsible for separating the valuable tweaks and additions (and adjusting expectations and deadlines) from red herrings that can jeopardize the project itself.
The tricky thing is that while project scope creation sounds like a one-time event, it rarely works out that the final plan is how things work out. If you don’t consistently re-visit the project scope, you may soon realize that your big project is months behind and fast consuming all your available resources.
At its core, project scope management must include both the defining of the scope of the project before it starts, as well as keeping tabs on the project throughout its entire lifecycle. It also includes ensuring that “scope creep” is curbed so that additional work is not added to the project scope without accompanying budget and resource adjustments. This may end up including dozens of team members, various interests and stakeholders, software and tool requirements, and, most importantly, the client or customer.
Start With the Project Manager
The correct creation of the scope of a project is the most critical factor the lends to each project getting completed successfully, on-time, and under budget. A project manager should have the skills necessary to put the scope together and is the best person to have a birds-eye view of the project and provide direction and adjustment wherever necessary.
As such, the project manager needs to have a handle on their bandwidth to properly manage the bandwidth of others. Too often a project fails or falls behind not because the project called for more work than needed, but because the project manager was too busy to give the project the attention it required. Project managers must be unencumbered enough by other duties to ensure they will have the time to continue to track and organize progress.
So before you have that kick-off meeting, talk to your project manager—or hire one!—and have them do some exploratory research into everything that’s needed to get the project to the finish line in one piece. That includes projected budgets, available resources, and deliverables, all balanced in an easy-to-understand flow.
Project Scope Management With Software
One thing to explore that might make your project managers’ lives less stressful and more efficient is whether a specialty piece of project management software will help you better organize and define the true scope of your next project. Keeping all project additions and tweaks in line and on budget can be a time-consuming and challenging task when done manually. When multiplied across a handful of projects all at once, it can be nearly impossible without a robust tool in place.
That’s where we come in. Here at LiquidPlanner, we make project management tools that enable you to adapt to change and embrace uncertainty in your project management needs. From defining project scope to tracking resources and deadlines, we’ll help you more effectively manage your projects without succumbing to all the little project gremlins that can take you out of the game.
Call or click today to see how we can help you.