So your organization or department has identified an area for improvement – great! A team is assigned to tackle the challenge – fantastic! Now, how can you make sure that the team will achieve results?
A common pitfall of projects is a scope that is either ill-defined or vague or alternately, that is too broad and all-encompassing. So how can you prevent this? The key to success is in the set-up. It’s all about the planning.
It is after these three steps that the project team and stakeholders will need to determine whether the “case for the project” is strong enough to be worthwhile, whether the resources and time required are manageable, and whether the vision or the future state successes are clear and measurable.
As the project plan, timeline and associated resources are being developed, you have the opportunity to make sure that the vision and objectives are turned into realistic tactics that can be executed. This is the time when a large scope should be turned into sub-projects or a program with multiple projects; this is the time when an unclear scope becomes clear by defining what is in scope, what success looks like, versus what is not in scope and what is not going to be tackled.
Remember, a critical element of a project’s success, is making sure that the team sees and feels that they are making progress. It is better to have sub-teams and sub-projects that have clear objectives that roll up to a program or alternately, that you have clear project phases with clear milestones/results, than a massive team with overwhelming project objectives that cannot figure out how to tactically make progress.
And what do you do if your project has already started and your team is struggling with an unclear or overwhelming scope? It may be time to take a step back, re-evaluate and determine what needs to change to allow the project and team to continue productively. It may be time to refine or clarify the end-state, redefine what is “in” and what is “out” of scope and/or possibly add sub-teams and/or sub-projects to make the scope manageable again. It is better to take corrective actions, at any point in a project, than continue working with a discouraged team, an ineffective and possibly costly project, and unlikely odds of achieving success.
What methods or tactics have helped your team manage scope?
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