Performing Scope Control

by Joseph_Phillips on February 26, 2013

Who likes changes in their project? If you’re a project manager you probably didn’t raise your hand. Changes are the dark nemesis of project management. Take a look at Figure 11. Changes that happen early in the project are way, way easier than changes that happen later in the project. Changes that happen early in the project are usually easier to incorporate into the project, because the project team hasn’t committed energy into the project work and time and monies haven’t been invested as intensely.

Figure 11: The later the change request the more complicated the change becomes.

So why do changes to the project scope happen anyway? There are four primary reasons why change attempts to, or demands to, enter the project scope:

  • Value-added. I admit, sometimes change is a good thing for the project. A change request comes into play that really does add some value to the project scope. No brainer – these changes are added to the project scope.
  • Errors and omissions. Most changes, in my experience, are a result of errors and omissions. Most changes are a result of the project manager, the business analyst, and the customer not fully identifying the project needs. Errors and omissions are by far the largest culprit for scope changes. Simply put, things that should have been in the project scope just didn’t find their way into the project scope statement.
  • External events. Some changes to the project scope are a result of things outside the project’s control: laws, regulations, even supply and demand.
  • Risk response. A risk could be identified that may have an adverse effect on the project’s success. For example, the electrical work could be deemed too risky, so it’s removed from the project scope.

Whatever the culprit, changes to the scope shouldn’t be done quickly or easily – and never without a written change request. Changes to the project scope can have ripple effects throughout the whole project so careful planning and consideration are mandatory for each proposed change. The first thing to examine with each proposed change is your old pal the Iron Triangle. If a scope change comes into the project and it expands the project scope, then the corresponding time and cost angles of the triangle need to be adjusted to reflect this change to the project scope.

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