How to Reduce Issues in Scope Management

In this article, I will share three primary issues in scope management–not including all the work, gold plating, and poor alignment with objectives and goals. And, we'll look at solutions for each. First, let's examine what scope management includes.

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"Project Scope Management includes the processes to ensure that the project includes all the work required, and only the work required, to complete the project successfully." PMBOK® Guide–Sixth Edition, page 129

Let's break this statement down and examine each element and the potential issues.

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3 Issues in Scope Management

Issue #1 – Not Including All the Work

"Project Scope Management includes the processes to ensure that the project includes all the work required."

Some project managers have a bad habit – they create their project plans with little input from the stakeholders. What's the result?

The project manager may miss key deliverables. They do not have ALL the work required in their project plan.

Guess what happens when you discover missed deliverables and activities later in the project. Yes, these activities often cause adverse impacts to your schedule and budget.

Instead, Do This – Ensure that you've identified all required work by creating a work breakdown structure (WBS) with your project team. Remember the adage – a picture is worth a thousand words. When people see the WBS, it helps the team to identify all the necessary deliverables.

100% Rule

The WBS shows all of the product and project work, including the project management work. "The total of the work at the lowest levels should roll up to the higher levels so that nothing is left out and no extra work is performed."

PMBOK® Guide–Sixth Edition, Page 161

Issue #2 – Gold Plating

"Project Scope Management includes. . . only the work required."

Project managers may commit the sin of gold plating – allowing extras or features to be added to projects that were NOT requested. 

Why does this happen? Individuals may add extras beyond the approved requirements hoping for kudos. These individuals often have a tendency towards perfectionism.

Instead, Do This – Project managers should be gatekeepers, carefully monitoring deliverables, requirements, and associated activities. Conduct the inspection of requirements with the appropriate stakeholders. Furthermore, use your integrated change control process for when changes are necessary.

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Issue #3 – Poor Alignment with Objectives and Goals

Project Scope Management focuses on completing each project successfully.

How do we know if the planned activities are the right activities? It starts with a well-defined project charter, the foundation for your project. Is there clarity in the project goals, deliverables, assumptions, and constraints? Vague, ambiguous goals make it difficult to know if the right activities are being undertaken.

Instead, Do This – Each time you identify a deliverable and associated project activities, check to make sure these items align with the project charter and your scope baseline – the approved version of the scope statement, WBS, and WBS dictionary. 

How About You?

Time to take action now. Consider reviewing one of your projects, maybe one that you feel the scope is out of control. Here are some steps you can take to improve the health of this project:

  • Facilitate a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) with your project team. Now, what's missing in your requirements and scope statement? Update these project documents.
  • Inspect the project for gold plating. What's being done that was not specified in the requirements? Stop these activities.
  • Clarify your project goals. If the objectives and goals are vague, refine them. Here's a sure-fire formula.
  • Identify project scope risks. What are the uncertain scope events or conditions that may result in positive or negative impacts to your project objectives. Develop risk response plans for the most significant risks.

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