Refocusing Projects onto Business Value, Part 6: Scope Management

Refocusing Projects onto Business Value, Part 6: Scope Management

If scope is not focused on value delivery from the outset, you run the risk of jeopardizing your project’s value to the business

How you define your project's scope becomes more critical once you recognized the difference between project and business outcomes and their relationship with 'value'. Your project scope definition will determine the size of the 'value gap' between your project's outcomes and the required business outcomes and benefits.

The greater the gap, the less likely you are to realize the full value as efforts to realize it are submerged by business-as-usual pressures, so the business needs to do more work to deliver the outcomes and realize the value.1

Conversely, the smaller the gap, the closer the joint involvement between the project and business teams will need to be to finalize the project — eg the project team is more dependent on the business for its successful completion of the project. Value delivery management research demonstrates that this close business/project collaboration delivers the most value.

With value delivery management, scope management needs to be more dynamic, multi-dimensional, and effectively controlled.

Your scope management process will need to recognize that the project and business definitions of desired outcomes may not be the same — and that the business depends on the project for the successful delivery of the total value.

So your project scope process needs to:

  1. Enable your organization to maximize your project's value by taking a broad 'problem scope' approach to identify the range of business value opportunities available.

  2. Define the true business outcomes, benefits, and value that can be delivered by the project.

  3. Focus project activities on the areas of greatest value through one or more targeted project 'solution scopes'.

  4. Differentiate between what the business wants (2) and what the project will deliver (3) and manage the gap.

Always keep scope management focused on the business value to be generated — why you're doing this project. If scope is not focused on value delivery from the outset, you'll immediately reduce your project's likely value and, therefore, the business justification for your project.

Value delivery management requires an upgrade in your project scope definition and management processes.

1. To some extent this distinction between project and business-as-usual delivery of business outcomes and benefits is an accounting exercise — assuming it will be done to realize the benefits, will it be a project or a business operating cost? By making it a business operating cost, the inherent inefficiencies of change implementation within business-as-usual will actually increase the overall business costs of delivering the value.

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Click here for the fifth article in this the series "Refocusing Projects onto Business Value, Part 5: Value-based Project Planning"

Click here for the first article in this the series "Refocusing Projects onto Business Value, Part I: The Need".

Jed Simms is CIO magazine's weekly project management columnist. Simms, founder of projects and benefits delivery research firm Capability Management, is also the developer of specialized project management and project governance Web site

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