Project Management

Scary Scope

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at [email protected] Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

I still keep a copy of one of the first project charters that I ever wrote. I originally kept it because I was so proud of the job that I had done. To me it was an amazing document--my project management training was fresh in my mind, I had all of my PM books to hand when I wrote it and reviewed the document against every one of those books to make sure I incorporated all of the sage advice. I was convinced that I had written a masterpiece--no finer project charter had ever been written.
 
Now I keep it as a reminder of how easy it is to get it very wrong. For the most part, it’s a lesson in the danger of ignoring your brain when you write a project charter. This is real life, not a textbook. But there is one less obvious--but very big--mistake in that document: The list of out-of-scope items is longer than the list of in-scope items.
 
The perils of “out of scope”
We are all educated from the start of our PM careers to be clear about scope. Never should anything be assumed--everything should be clearly stated, because otherwise confusion reigns supreme. Let’s try a little exercise to help me demonstrate what’s wrong with that approach…
 
Before you read anymore of this article, think of any animal except a dog.
 
What breed of dog did you think of? A list of out-of-scope items is the same concept. By providing a…

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"I know the meaning of life - it doesn't help me a bit."

- Howard Devoto