What's the Scope of your Project?

Guy McClintock, Solution Architect Stream Lead, FINEOS

A couple of weeks ago I was having a coffee with my brother in law and I asked him what the worst part of his job was.  Without even hesitating he blurted out the phrase ‘scope creep’!  I thought he was joking; he is in a different industry to me and he has a sense of humor; but he was deadly serious.  The more I thought about what he said the more it resonated with me.  “Scope creep”, or at least, scope management, is definitely one of the most challenging parts of my job too.

During any project implementation there comes a time when the budget gets tighter and the timelines get shorter.  Usually this is when relationships between customer and vendor get most vigorously tested.  Scope is the enemy of everyone who has a focus on getting the project over the line.  On one side, everyone wants to create the perfect solution that ticks all the boxes, on the other side, no-one wants the project to run late or even worse, run out of money.

So, how do you mitigate this almost inevitable turn of events?  In FINEOS, we use a scope management tool called the Master Design List.  This tool has evolved over the years from a completely internal tool to something that we use in collaboration with our customers today.  Furthermore, the Master Design List is now introduced right at the start of the project.  From Implementation Scoping Study right through to Go-live, the Master Design List is used to collectively manage the scope of the project.  Having a tool that is shared with customers allows for scope management to be transparent and collaborative.   Even when the difficult decisions are being made, they are being made in full view of everyone.  We might not all like every decision that is being made, but at least we have visibility of why it was made.

In addition to having the right tool, having the right understanding between customer and vendor is key.  Creating a clear and transparent baseline scope, and assigning an owner to that scope on both sides is vital to success. Not only does this help to forge relationships on the project team, it also helps when scope discussions arise.  Frequent scope management milestones and a well planned Change Management program around the project are also essential pieces of the scope management jigsaw.

The next time you are planning a project, think about how you are going to handle scope management.  Regardless of the mechanism you use to manage scope, just be sure that you have a plan in place.  No matter how things go, you can be sure that you’ll regret it if you leave it to chance.

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