Dealing With Scope Changes in Projects Management

No matter how well defined your Scope is at the beginning of a project, there will probably be changes. It usually happens for several reasons such as:

  • New requirements when the customer see the product
  • Value-adding change
  • Changes in the product definition
  • Changes in the project definition

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Managing scope changes properly is an artform. There’s no point in resisting scope changes, it is a fundamental part of any project. 

If you studied project management, you are already familiar with the concepts scope change and scope creeps. In this blog post, I’ll give you a few recommendations to control and manage scope changes.

Clear Needs, Clear Scope

Be as clear as possible on the scope definition at the begging of the project. There will be many real changes to deal with, so it is important to avoid the ones caused by misunderstandings.

Don’t assume you know what the customer needs are; this is probably the most frequent mistake. If anything is not clearly defined, is better to ask and clarify and not assume and then generate rework.

Fluent Communication

This point is probably the most important and the most difficult to accomplish. To be sure that you understand the requirements, use different models of communication.

If the project is agile, try to involve the customer as much as possible. Sometimes the development team is not close enough to the customer. Try to keep active communication channels and a “united team” atmosphere instead of a client-provider relationship. Also, the earlier you show the product to the client and get feedback, the lower the risk of having a change of requirements.

Scope Change Process

Define a change management process and the committee to approve the changes. Having the method defined at the beginning of the project allows to simplify it. Also, making faster adaptations translates to cutting rework costs. Plus, it will enable avoiding delays during the development when a change cames out. You can be in control of the changes that are demanded. If the process is defined when the first change occurs, the process will be influenced by the criticism of the discovered change.

Once the project is being developed, be sure that all members of the team are aware of the process. Alert if there is an opportunity for change and drive it through the change management process. The most critical step is to make a proper impact analysis, to avoid further changes and scope scrapping.

Intraway’s Approach

At Intraway we start the project with a SOW (Scope Of Work). Once both parties sign it, the project phases are defined. For each stage, there is a detailed specification prepared and agreed.

The scope change process is defined on the SOW. Depending on the client and project, a scope change budget can be set. This is considered when the client thinks that his needs are not fully defined. It can also happen when there’s a higher risk of having grey areas. This practice helps to lower the risk on both sides. Speeding things up and giving the teams the flexibility to correct definitions, facilitates delivering a better product without needing to pass through the budget approval process each time.

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