Scope is defined at a high level by describing the boundaries and deliverables of your project. You add more detail to that definition through the gathering of your business requirements. Once these items are agreed to by your sponsor, you can manage overall scope change through a simple scope change process. Remember that having your scope and business requirements approved doesn't mean nothing can change from that point on. It means instead that you will manage the overall change process from that point forward using a good scope change management process.
Here's a simple scope change process that you can use on your project.
- Solicit potential scope change requests from any project stakeholder, including the project team, clients, sponsors, etc.
- Smaller projects can document the scope change in a short form or an e-mail. For larger projects, the scope change request should be formally documented using a Scope Change Request Form. The important thing is that you need to document the scope change in writing. Don't act on scope change requests you receive verbally.
- Enter the request into the Scope Change Log for tracking purposes.
- The person making the scope change request should define the business value to the project. The sponsor will need this information to make a final decision.
- The project manager will assign the scope change request to a team member for further investigation. (The project manager could assign it to himself.) The team member will first determine how much time it will take to investigate the scope change request. If the time required to perform the analysis will cause deliverable dates to slip, the request must first be taken to the sponsor to determine whether the request should be investigated or not. If the sponsor gives the initial approval to proceed, the workplan and budget may need to be updated to reflect this new work. If the sponsor does not agree to investigate the change request, then the request should be placed closed as "not approved" on the Scope Change Log.
- Take the scope change request, alternatives, business value and project impact to the sponsor for a resolution (yes we do it or no, we don't do it).
- Document the resolution or course of action.
- Document the resolution briefly on the Scope Change Log. If the Sponsor does not agree to the change request, then the request should be closed as 'not approved' on the Scope Change Log.
- If the scope change request is approved, the appropriate activities are added to the workplan to ensure the change is implemented. The project budget should also be updated, if necessary.
- The current Project Definition (Charter) should be updated if an approved scope change results in a substantial change to the project.
Throughout the process, make sure that you communicate all scope change status and resolution to project team members and other appropriate stakeholders. This is usually done by attaching your current Scope Change Log to your Status Report. This helps manage expectations and shows how approved scope change requests are impacting the project end date and budget.