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Well that is indeed a very precarious situation to be in. It is difficult to comprehend that a project is in such a bad state that there is no documentation that could be used to define the scope and/or deliverable, even if it is not an official scope document. Can I presume that there is also no contract? Usually, a contract specifies the highlevel scope. If there is really, REALLY no document then your only choice is to rebaseline everything and somebody is not going to be happy.
Tough situation to be in but not impossible to pull off. If there is no approved and documented scope, then anything that the sponsor "wishes" can be scoped in. In my experience, as long as you have the necessary resources (budget, manpower, infrastructure, tools, etc) you may accommodate the requests to keep your stakeholder satisfied. But be sure to discuss the requirements first with your team and intelligently make estimates to timeline and scope - if this is beyond what the customer is expecting, then negotiate and manage commitments with your sponsor.
A combination of Anton's response and Julian's pragmatic approach will be obvious in seeing you through. Remember, to get the project sponsor and the client agree on the new requirements that must have been evaluated your project team.
Can you take an iterative / continuous delivery approach? The client's issues become your scope, he prioritises them and they are delivered in sequence.
Discuss with the senior team members to have an understanding of the project vision
I support Anonymous' approach. Its more of an iterative from here and deliver as per client's need.
Also cross check as per Anton with the contract / SOW signed with client which might indicate high level scope.
Be watchful about the cost part of it and should not end up delivering / doing something which was not part of original contract
You will be surprised, but such things happen in other projects as well. I was once in such situation, and understand what you are dealing with.
You can start with asking around in your company - sponsor, stakeholders, management, ... I cannot believe that previous PM would have agreed with the client on something without having other people from the company in the loop.
As another option, you can discuss the issue with the client. If something was agreed with the client, both sides must have it. Be honest with the client, discuss the situation and try to find a solution, as the project results are of interest for both sides. This can even help you get closer and better relationship with the client, by showing willingness to work together and having open communication.
In any case you need to collect all documents related to the project - RfP, contract, project management plan, .... Event if you have all other documents in place, I would expect that you will need to revise and update them to reflect the changes coming from the client.
Creating the scope on the fly. Remember that project manager is accountable for project scope, not for product scope. And as you know, project scope is defined from product scope.
According to my previous experience working with different projects in different positions, the situation you are facing are more common occurrences than rare or exceptional ones.
My advise is: first have a thorough look at what was defined in the project documents and in the contract with the client. Based on what was agreed and defined in the project scope of work (SOW) under the light of the contractual obligations agreed make a list of all the changes made per the clients requests and every single new request you have been receiving by them
Evaluate the impact those changes have had or will have on the original SOW, Schedule and Budget (manhours included) and prepare a detailed rendition of your findings and ways to resolve the issues originated by their requested changes request to have a discussion with the client to let them know on the issues/solution, and try and negotiate a mutually convenient agreement.
Consult with your Project Sponsor on the steps you are considering to follow before going to the client and look for her/his advice.
That's my suggestion.
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