How do world class management consultants scope projects effectively?

Every project should start with a clear understanding of what needs to be done in the project. Both the client and the consultants should be precise with the project scope so as to avoid any heartburns later on. More so with the gig-economy in present times, where building trust and setting expectations is very crucial for consultants typically working from a remote location.

WHY SCOPING?

  • To help the owner of a project or the client to understand how much effort and resources are required to accomplish their intentions.
  • To help determine a realistic budget for the project by identifying all the materials and manpower needed.
  • To help outline the steps for accomplishing the work, and to set a project schedule.
  • To identify potential bottlenecks and problems.

COMMON MISTAKES LEADING TO IMPROPER SCOPING:

  • Rushing the project planning process
  • Using vague language and terms in the project scope statement
  • Not specifying which deliverables are in scope and what is out of scope.
  • Omitting guidelines for handling project change requests that alter the scope.

PROCESS TO FOLLOW FOR SCOPING

Here are some of the questions that are important in identifying the scope of a project:

  • What is the purpose of this project? How does it help us realize our goals?
  • What should the end result be, do, or look like?
  • Who will the project serve? Who are the end users? Who should it appeal to?
  • What work is already completed? What background information is available?
  • Is any further research needed? Are there people who should be interviewed?
  • What is the timeframe? Can the project be completed in the allotted time?
  • What resources are needed? People? Materials? Supplies? Travel? Special software?
  • What could possibly go wrong?

PREPARE A SOW

The scope of work (SOW) is a formal document that captures and defines the tasks, activities, deliverables and timeline an independent consultant will execute for a client project. It is an important tool for consultants because the scope determines the boundaries of the client project and can provide the foundation for measuring performance against project goals.

For the consultant, the SOW is not just a legal tool. In addition to providing the right protections for them and the client, the SOW can be used as a communication tool during the course of the project.

Use it in the initial client meeting to manage expectations and define the project plan. Remember to update the SOW if there is an approved change that modifies the work to be done. The SOW will also help consultants to stay on course and make sure that they are focused on client deliverables.

TOOLS TO USE FOR SCOPING

One can simply use Word or Google Docs for a one-page SOW.

Later on, project management tools like Asana or Zoho or Jira can be used to list all the tasks, milestones and responsibilities. Export the plan as a Gantt chart and link it with the SOW.

FINALLY, ENSURE THE FOLLOWING:

  • Don’t simply assume that the stakeholders are fully aware of the project scope; many times they aren’t. Refer the SOW from time to time.
  • If there is any alteration to the scope, always get the scope change requests approved and documented.
  • Regularly update the scope documentation as things change
  • Verify the final deliverables against those documented in the scope
  • Remind the team and any new team members of the project scope and objectives

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