The Scoop on Requirements Scoping

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We've all been there. When a project's scope isn't properly managed, it can lead to schedule delays, budget overruns or not meeting project goals.

Requirements scoping can help keep projects under control by establishing what criteria — such as prioritization — will drive decisions. The process also clearly details what the project will deliver, and perhaps just as importantly, what it won't.

Depending on a project's complexity, goals and project management approaches, there are various ways to manage requirements scoping. Here are three of the most common.

1. Early scoping assumes all scoping is done as part of the project charter or during the scope definition. The approach relies on precise estimations of required resources, budget and time. It discourages scope creep and requirements changes.

The advantage of early scoping is that it facilitates starting project work ahead of time. On the other hand, poorly estimated efforts can translate into budget or schedule overruns, resources bottlenecks or missed project goals. 

Early scoping is recommended for projects where the main focus is on the scope, and on ones with no, or minimal, budget and schedule constraints. For example, early scoping works well on consolidation or integration projects, where the constraints on the scope (budget limitations, for instance) impact objectives.

2. Late scoping is performed after collecting, analyzing and even designing the requirements. At such late stages, efforts estimates are much easier to assess and generally more accurate.

Although late scoping can keep a project within budget and schedule boundaries, this approach has a considerable downside: Efforts spent for out-of-scope requirements are wasted or deferred. Consequently, this leaves less time, budget and resources for addressing in-scope requirements — the ones that matter.

Late scoping is recommended for projects addressing requirements that have similar (and not critical) relevance for the project's outcome — for example, regular maintenance projects.

3. Iterative scoping is a balanced, incremental approach. The entire scope is broken down and prioritized by items that have the highest relevance. These will be addressed in the first scoping round. The rest of the requirements, as well as potential changes or rework, are subject to scoping in subsequent iterations. 

The requirements scoping and the project work advance in a rolling wave approach. Iterative scoping is especially useful for IT and agile projects.

How do you manage requirements scoping on your projects?

Posted by Marian Haus on: January 04, 2013 10:42 AM | Permalink

Comments (1)

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Stefania Serna
Hello everyone, I have a doubt. Iterative scoping is the same as divide the project into phases? It is unclear the part "subsequent iterations". Thank you.

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