Straight Dope on Scope, Part 2

Ellen is is an expert in lean/agile planning and analysis; product backlog discovery, refinement and management; and collaborative techniques. She is the author of three books, including Discover to Deliver: Agile Product Planning and Analysis. Ellen works with global clients, writes widely and speaks at industry conferences.

Project teams will always feel pressure to reflect changes in stakeholders’ needs by expanding the scope of products being developed. Rather than resist these changes, anticipate and manage them. Here are three more tips for managing product scope changes, including visualization models and transparent decision-making.

In Part 1 of this series, I shared three tips for managing product scope: 1) differentiate product scope from project scope; 2) engage stakeholders as product partners (from the business, customer and technology communities) and identify their value considerations; and 3) use the 7 Product Dimensions and the structured conversation construct to systematically analyze each aspect of proposed product options.

Now let’s look at three more tips for managing product scope.

Tip 4: Use Models to Visualize Product Scope

Nothing helps focus your thinking better than creating visual models of the many abstract elements involved in product development. When team members literally see a sketch, a diagram, a table, or other visual representation, they often understand a concept for the first time. Seeing a concrete image ignites the brain and seeds new ideas and new ways of thinking, allowing the team to consider possibilities in a way documents and words may not. As a general rule of thumb, combine visual analysis models with textual …

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