Scope Decomposition of Complex Programs: Key Methods to Define and Manage the Scope of Large-Scale Change Initiatives

Abstract
Organizations are increasingly embarking on large-scale transformation programs to adapt to a constantly changing business environment. A variety of factors influence the complexity of programs, thus making their scope difficult to define and manage. For these programs to achieve their strategic goals, it is not only important to decompose their scope into controllable constituents, but also to stitch the pieces back again into a cohesive whole. To achieve this, there are three key methods—systems thinking, work breakdown structures (WBS), and progressive elaboration—that need to be deployed. Implementing this formal method to dissect and combine complex scope goes a long way in effectively managing and controlling programs, so that they meet their stated objectives.

Introduction
An exponential increase in processing power has ushered a digital revolution that has upended traditional business models. The Deloitte study, “The organization of the future: Arriving now,” highlights that, “As organizations become more digital, they face a growing imperative to redesign themselves to move faster, adapt more quickly, facilitate rapid learning, and embrace the dynamic career demands of their people” (Bersin, McDowell, Rahnema, & Van Durme, 2017). These trends enforce firms to run large-scale change initiatives, often in parallel, …


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