Monday, August 22, 2011

Project Scope: Narrow Your Focus.

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Every project is implemented under three const...

In quantifying and qualifying any project, i.e., in determining precisely what it is that you are  being entrusted to accomplish, and certainly prior to becoming involved in either planning, securing resources or undertaking implementation activities, be certain that you have absolutely defined the exact scope of the project, and in the most exact, detailed terms possible. These details should be part and parcel of your Letter Of Engagement with the client -- either incorporated in the body of the Letter, or in the form of a schedule or schedules attached. In doing this, you are formally defining and legally agreeing, between yourself (or your company) and your client, the essence of your mission, and everything that is to be expected of you.

The narrower and more clearly focused the scope, incremental steps, benchmark achievements, critical time frames and required resources, the less the likelihood of either party being either feeling abused or disappointed. A well-formed, clearly-written scope of project is almost like a babysitter's checklist, with nothing left to the imagination. It is a key step in establishing proper expectation management and customer experience management (CEM). Many project management relationships are doomed to failure at the outset because the scope is neither clearly defined, nor reduced to a straightforward writing. The parties shake hands -- but with neither really knowing exactly what the other expects...and the "project" takes on an amorphous, subjective life of its own, becoming a sore point between the parties.

This defining and writing of expectations and specifications will require an additional increment of time at the outset of the project discussions with your prospective client, but this "extra" investment at the inception of the relationship will greatly ensure the likelihood of a positive outcome, and a working relationship built upon a foundation of professionalism and mutual respect.

The narrower the scope of the project, the more likely it is that 1) the parties will have a harmonious relationship during the implementation, and 2) that the project itself will be completed satisfactorily and as scheduled. Smaller, more narrowly-defined projects pave the way for larger projects. A well-defined, expertly executed small project can be seen as a sales tool which opens the door of trust and confidence for more and greater projects.

Start a bit smaller and a bit smarter in order to capture and keep a better, longer-term relationship. A narrow focus is a sharp focus.

Douglas E Castle []

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