Know When to Change Scope
Project scope changes can be a good thing. In an ideal world, the plans that we make would be executed perfectly within budget and on time. But the reality is that change is sometimes needed. If your organization’s needs change or if your customer’s needs change, you should adapt to accommodate these needs which might mean widening or narrowing the scope of a project. While we can accept that sometimes change is needed, determining exactly what that looks like is a little less black and white. To help your organization manage scope changes and practice agility in their portfolio management, we recommend putting in place some guidelines. For every proposed change in scope, your organization should ask and answer several questions:
- What caused a change in scope to be needed?
- What would happen if we didn’t change the scope?
- What would happen if we did change the scope?
These questions seem basic but taking the time to answer them can help ensure scope changes are appropriate. The first question forces you to consider the environment a project is operating in. Since we don’t plan to have changes in scope, asking what force or influence is disrupting our plans will help us understand if we want to adapt to these forces or if we need to.
Asking what would happen if the scope wasn’t changed and what would happen if it did change establishes the stakes and the tradeoffs. Would deciding not to alter the scope of a project fail to meet a client’s needs or deliver a finished product that was already out of date or unneeded? Would changing the scope require additional resources and budget or affect other project dependencies? When organizations answer these questions, they can make sure they make informed decisions about scope changes and effectively manage changes, so they don’t take over your project portfolio.