How to Define Project Scope

Working with your project stakeholders to define and stay within your project scope can sometimes be the most uncomfortable and awkward experience of the project. As project manager, you will have to actually get a project completed while dealing with stakeholder assumptions. This process takes a lot of patience and knowing when to ask the correct questions during the requirements-gathering process.  

At some point in almost every project, a stakeholder will question if you are delivering what they originally asked for during the the original requirements-gathering phase. What you have to do is reduce how often that happens, and that means improving your process to deliver a solution that matches stakeholder expectations without project changes.

Ask the Correct Questions

By paying close attention during the stakeholder or client interviews, you will find it easier to understand what they are asking you to deliver, and you can also guide them to a better solution. This means asking the correct questions, and providing the correct information when they ask you questions. As a project manager you don’t just write down their requests without really understanding why they are asking for the features requested. By understanding, and not just documenting, you can easily assign importance to each feature and intelligently discuss the features if someone else wants to change the feature or eliminate the requested item because of budget constraints.

Things Change

Everything changes, and so will the requested features for your project. Business priorities change, customer interests change, technology changes, everything changes. Make sure your project sponsor and stakeholders understand you expect and can support changes, how they must request changes, and how you will manage change during the project. Make sure everyone understands the process to request a change, how a change will move through the approval process, and how everyone will be notified of requested and approved changes. You must accept that things change and never respond in a negative way if the change request is conducted in an approved manner.

Be Human

Communication is the most difficult and the most essential part of any project. The larger the project, the more difficult to communicate to the entire team. As project manager you must accept that all communication is essentially one person telling one or more other people what is happening, and that can’t always happen through printed reports and emails. Sometimes you just have to be human and talk face-to-face with another human to effectively communicate ideas and project status. You will need to understand the people involved in your project and conduct your communication using the technique and style that best meets their expectations. If you have a stakeholder that wants a daily face-to-face meeting, then expect that to be the standard status update method for that stakeholder.


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