The Scope Document: The Eyes and Ears of Project Management

Barath is an independent consultant with proven leadership in delivering robust and effective PMOs in complex programs for large banks in the UK.

Imagine you are approached by a business manager who needs help managing a new project. You are given only sketchy details about what needs to be delivered. You want specifics, but unfortunately, he has few answers. Your name is now on the line for managing this project, and the clock is ticking. What do you do? And how do you begin making sense of the project?

Sound familiar? This scenario is more common in the real world than many would think possible. Projects can have a fuzzy beginning, and it can be quite daunting to formulate a way forward. Many a time, the concept and business case are developed simultaneously—and therefore do not fit the linear textbook prescription whereby you start with an approved high-level business case and then peacefully proceed to full-scale planning.

This is a utopian vision rarely achievable in chaotic, real-life project situations. Therefore, in reality, the key role of a project manager is to guide and manage the evolution of a project through a structured framework. Project management knowledge, skill and past experience play a major role in facilitating this evolution. Fortunately, there are reliable tools available to build structure and bring certainty to managing the initial stages of project planning.

One such vital tool is the scope document, and exclusive attention is warranted in the early days to develop this into a …


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