When starting a new project or taking on new work you should always determine the scope of the work required. Understanding the size of the work required needs to be determined ahead of time as it will be used to plan and evaluate the completed product. By exploring the scope of a project you will uncover all of the dependencies, timelines, tasks, goals, and expectations you will need to account for in order to deliver success.
Without scope planning you and your team can get lost in the project. Being lost can lead to scope creep, which results in lost money. In the early days of my career I was assigned a small project to build a login page for a tool our company was working on. Unfortunately, I didn't establish a clear scope or set of goals for the project. Over the course of a few days I built the login system in solitude. I thought it was great. The page had login, registration and oauth functionality with styling that matched our corporate site. When I went to present the work to the team everyone didn't understand why had done so much extra work. The unsaid expectation had been for me to build a simple page that allowed users to login; no styling, registration, or oauth. Luckily this was a small project. If it had been a large one it would have cost the company money, time and resources that we didn't have. As a result, I now obsess about determining the full scope of the work I will be doing.
If this story is familiar, and you want to know more about avoiding this type of scenario. It’s pretty simple: clearly define your scope before you start any work. The following steps will help you do so:
What are the project objectives? Be specific. The more clear the expectations are, the lower the chance is that time and resources are wasted.
When is it due? If you have a proper understanding of time allotted, you can better manage your available resources.
What tasks must be completed? When this is defined, you can more easily identify what DOESN’T belong, leading to more efficient work.
What resources do I have? This, mixed with an understanding of time, will ensure that your production plan will lead to a complete product by the due date.
What is the budget? This is another resource that impacts the boundaries of your scope.
Are there milestones that need to be completed? Applying milestones to your work will help you measure your progress along the way, letting you know if you need to adjust a resource variable, or adjust the scope and expectations of the project, before the due date arrives.
By answering these questions you will able to clearly understand the size and scope of your work. This will allow you to save money and resources by avoiding scope creep, wasted time, and more.
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