The Problem with the Project Management Scope
By Jed Simms
Project management contributes to project success, but does not guarantee it. Project management can efficiently deliver the wrong result as well as delivery. But you cannot rely on project management to increase the quality of your project’s outcomes if they’re not set up correctly in the first place.
The PMBOK, for example, does not include either a requirements definition stage or benefits management process; these are value delivery processes and therefore not part of the project management stream (even though they are often assumed to be). As project management is about organizing the delivery of “something”, a project manager is naturally pulled towards getting to the delivery stage as soon as possible. The time required to define the desired outcomes and business requirements can be frustrating to the project manager — which is why so many projects rush off with vague scope definitions and no, inadequate or inappropriate measures of success.
Which leads us to ask whether “Scope” is a project management or a value delivery tool. Traditionally, scope and its management is seen as a key project management control mechanism with strict change controls asserted over proposed scope changes. This appears to make sense when you see most scope change proposals discuss their potential impact on the project’s resources — time, effort and cost.
However, this is a mistake; as the impacts on the business outcomes, benefits and value are usually not considered. This can lead to massive value loss.
In once recent case a project under financial pressure ‘de-scoped’ one segment to save costs and keep within the original timeline. However, my value analysis showed that this one segment delivered over 60% of the business value and without it the project was not viable. This value-destroying decision was made because no one had considered the impact of the de-scoping on the benefits. Indeed, as they had used conventional business case approaches, they could not link the components of the project with the prospective benefits!
I believe that scope management is an integral part of the value delivery stream as it establishes the value to be delivered (through what’s in and out) and should only be changed after full consideration of the resultant business benefits and value impact. It is, therefore, a value management tool.
Jed Simms is a former Regional IT strategist with The Boston Consulting Group who, for the past 15 years, has run his own consultancy. Capability Management, specializing in dramatically increasing the value generated by each and every project. The creator and author of a complete suite of value delivery management tools at http://www.valuedeliverymanagement.com/ he has published three books, several ebooks and over 100 articles.
Value Delivery Management is designed as a rich repository for all those involved in project delivery. It has a special focus on value delivery management — ie increasing the value realized by projects — plus a special emphasis on equipping the business to perform their role on projects so as to reap the benefits and make the project manager’s life easier.