Project Management

Scope Management: Helping Rein in Blue Sky Thinkers

Early during my consulting career, back when pockets were deep and the IT industry was roaring, I worked on an assignment where I needed to deliver an application to a researcher who I would describe as a “blue sky thinker.” This researcher was a fountain of knowledge and constantly pontificated about new ideas for our application. While we enjoyed his visions of grandeur, we nonetheless knew that we needed to deliver something on time and on budget. Yet we were petrified that we would deliver the wrong thing. How could we ensure that we could get something done but meet user expectations? The answer: scope management.
Scope management sounds like such a cliched project management term. The mantra has always been “manage the scope and get it done on time and on budget.” In the consulting world, I've seen this practiced as thorough as astrophysics, where consultants will manage scope down to the number of columns on a report. It is no coincidence that the Big Six consulting firms grew of accounting practices. Accountants are the self-anointed scope management kings.
However, scope management in my mind is all about delivery. The goal of every project is to deliver some meaningful business value in a short timeframe. No one wants to go an extended period of time and then see nothing. Scope management sets parameters to do that. Simply …

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