How to Measure Project Scope
Your supervisor just handed your team a large-scale project and appointed you as project manager. What’s your first move? For most project managers, it’s measuring project scope.
Project scope outlines what needs to get done (and, almost as importantly, what won’t get done), who handles specific tasks, how much the project will cost, and when the team can expect to finish it. Here’s how you get started measuring project scope and what you should expect.
Begin Collecting Information for a Scope Statement
In most organizations, it’s necessary for a project manager to submit a scope statement. This comprehensive outline covers three main points: business objectives, project description, and roles.
Your scope statement is, in essence, a formal, written version of your project scope. It requires you, as the project manager, to gather a significant amount of information about your project. It also requires you to make decisions about your team members’ individual roles, your schedule of deliverables, and your budget.
Identify Business Objectives
The first step in building out your scope statement is identifying the business objectives. This section should explain what need this project serves within your organization, how important this need is, and how the need was recognized.
This explanation links your project back to the organization’s long-term goals and philosophy, and helps management understand where this project is on your organization’s list of priorities.
Describe the Solution
After you address your project’s business objectives, the next step is explaining how your project offers a solution to a specific problem. For example, if you’re turning your office paperless, then you should describe how much money the office spends on paper annually and how much this transition will cut down on those costs.
Make sure that your solution description links back to organizational goals, for example, explaining how the reduced costs will help the organization meet their next projected quarterly budget.
Outline the Deliverables
What is this project actually producing? Spend time learning what’s realistic for the project, and then explain exactly what will—and won’t—get done. Be very specific about your project’s deliverables.
It’s important to be transparent about your experience and your team members’ respective skill sets. Without communicating these hard truths, members of your organization might make assumptions about what your team can handle and what you can deliver.
As part of this effort to manage expectations, add a detailed list of what’s outside the project scope. For example, if your project requires your team to design new promotional documents, then it’s critical to note in your scope statement that your project isn’t responsible for printing.
Create a Project Description
Your project description should focus on the project’s completion criteria. It reiterates what the project includes and doesn’t include, and what the deliverables are. It also builds in a schedule for each phase of your project and a breakdown of your budget.
As the project manager, you’re also responsible for assessing risk and pointing out project restraints. Determine the top three biggest risks to your project, and provide risk mitigation suggestions for each one. Then, define which resource limitations, such as staffing and budget, could negatively impact the project.
Are certain deliverables dependent on another organization providing you with a product? Are there certain assumptions you need to make as a project manager, such as that your supervisor will provide timely feedback on each phase of the project? Include these dependency linkages and assumptions in your project description.
Who is providing the funding and approving each phase of this project? That person or organization is your project sponsor. If your supervisor is your point of contact for this project, then name that person as your project sponsor.
Next, name your project owner. The owner can be an organization, but you’ll want to include the name of the person you’ll work with to make high-level decisions, resolve conflicts, manage expectations, and communicate with your team members.
Finally, choose the members of your team who will work with you on this project. Delegate project tasks to specific members of your team, and detail how each of these contribute to the project’s completion criteria and your organization’s business objectives. In selecting your team, factor in their skills, experience and availability.
Compose Your Scope Statement
Once you’ve made these critical project management decisions, it’s time to put it in writing. Craft a compelling executive summary, and then include your business objectives, project description, and role allocation information in a single document.
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