Project Management

The Scourge of Great Auntie Mildred (or, How to Manage Scope on a Personal Project)

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.

Scope. That elusive set of requirements that those of us who have been managing projects for some time were taught was a prerequisite for starting the work. And now it’s the thing that we expect to evolve as we learn more about a project, but that is still at least somewhat defined up front. But what about personal projects? Well, there things can be a bit different.

Imagine you’re planning a project for granny’s 90th birthday. You’ve got all the family together and talked through how to go about it. After a lot of back and forth, you’ve agreed to rent the local community hall for the day, invite the extended family and all of granny’s neighbors and friends.

There will be a catered lunch supported by some homemade cakes and desserts made by the family, some of granny’s favorite music on the PA system (not too loud as to prevent conversation, but loud enough that granny can hear, because she will forget her hearing aids…again), and a whole heap of photos of granny’s life from childhood to now being projected onto the wall in a continuous loop.

You’re going to commission a very fancy birthday cake that’s going to be a life-size bust of granny, and will be all her favorite flavors—chocolate, raspberry and gin. The great-grandkids are going to be organizing bingo, and they’ve also asked to write…

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