Project Management – 5 Steps to Writing a Project Scope Statement Which Ensures Project Success

April 27, 2009 by  Filed under: Management 

Writing a succinct and accurate Project Scope Statement is one of the hardest tasks in initiating a Project. It may not seem so at the time. In fact at first glance it appears to be simplicity itself. However beware. Get this section wrong in the Project Initiation Document and you will be well on the way to the dreaded Project Failure.

So why is this section so problematic? After all it just consists of three sections in which the Project Manager defines the scope of the Project. These are; Proposed Solution, In Scope and Out of Scope.

Now many Project Managers think that the vaguer this section is the better. After all at the initiation stage it is usually still unclear what the project is able to deliver, because Business Requirements haven’t been documented yet. But the problem is that by doing this you are simply storing up numerous problems for the future.

For example, well meaning Business Stakeholders have a knack for changing their minds once the project initiates. By that I mean they keep demanding you deliver more functionality, but of course for the same budget and to the same timeframe. Unfortunately since the scope of the Project within the Project Initiation Document is vague, it’s virtually impossible for the Project Manager to insist that deliverables for the project have changed. It then becomes an uphill battle to fight against the constant scope creep.

To stop you getting into that position there are 5 steps you should follow. These are:

1. Insist on proper Business Stakeholder input from Day 1. Yes they will kick and scream but if the project doesn’t deliver, it’s your reputation on the line.

2. Ask the Business Stakeholders to tell you what they think the Project is delivering. Do this individually as it will make it clear where the differences of opinion are.

3. Once you have the high level information, move down into the detail of the deliverables. At this stage get the input of the Business Analysts and Development Teams so you can quickly clarify what is achievable in the timeframe.

4. Remember that what is Out of Scope for the project is possibly even more important than what is In Scope. So don’t overlook it.

5. When you have completed writing the Project Scope Statement, remember to pass it by the Business Stakeholders first, for their comments and feedback. Once you have their buy in, your project stands a good chance of delivering.

Of course there is much, much more, but at a high level, following these steps will give you a chance of not falling at the first obstacle in the project lifecycle.

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