By Pat Yount

A comprehensive scope statement is the foundation of the application selection process. It helps vendors quickly determine if their product can possibly meet your company’s needs, saving valuable time for both your project team and the vendor. The scope statement is like a box: Either the product fits within its boundaries, or it doesn’t.

If you are like many project managers, you may approach this process with a grimace. Getting a comprehensive scope statement formulated and agreed upon by all team members can be an exercise in patience and perseverance. If you begin with the end in mind, you can build a solid and high-quality statement and, along the way, build consensus among the project team members.

Save $50 when you become a gantthead premium member.

To read more from gantthead, join now!
Registration for basic membership is free.

Do you need project plans, deliverable templates, presentations, checklists, or expert advice? TechRepublic members who join gantthead can upgrade to a premium membership for only $300—that’s $50 off of the premium subscription. Visit gantthead today to find everything you need for success on your next project.

Getting started
First, meet with the team and agree on a deadline to complete the statement. Then, start the scope statement with a description of the situation that triggered the need for a new product selection. Perhaps an existing product no longer functions as required or the company has grown and manual processes now require automation.

The key to building strong scope statements is helping the team visualize the system when it is implemented by determining the following factors:

  1. Critical functions of the system
  2. Input to the application
  3. Output from the system
  4. Integration requirements
  5. Technical requirements
  6. Roles and responsibilities

Visualize the final product
Build a visual representation of the implemented application by posing these questions to the team:

  • When the system is in place, what will it look like?
  • What does the application have to do to meet your critical business requirements?
  • How will information get into the system?
  • How will that information be updated, used, modified, and distributed?
  • What technical capabilities are essential for your environment?
  • Will the system have to interact and/or integrate with other systems? If so, how will that occur?
  • Who will use the system?
  • Who will own the system?
  • Who will support/maintain the system?
  • When will the system need to be in place?
  • Where will the system reside?
  • How will users access the system?
  • What additional features are critical to the system to be effective for your business area?

The first draft of the scope statement
Solicit input from each team member to create a document similar to the following example:

Because of company growth, ABC Company needs to implement an automated Time and Attendance System that:

1. Accepts input from:

  • Payroll system
  • Internet time sheets
  • Client server time sheets
  • Time clocks
  • Feed from call-center login screens

2. Includes the following outputs:

  • Payroll system interface
  • Feeds to current reporting database
  • Real-time interface to billing system
  • Formatted flat-file feed to contract company
  • Multiple “out of the box” reports
  • Employee time
  • Accruals

3. Defines responsibilities as follows:

  • HR will be the business point of contact
  • Application will be hosted by vendor
  • IT will support the technical interfaces

4. Includes the following key functionalities:

  • Ability to track different pay and time rules for each division
  • Manage vacation and sick-time accruals
  • Distribute labor hours across multiple departments, divisions, and projects

Finalizing the scope statement
Assuring buy-in on the final scope statement starts by soliciting input from each team member. This should be part of the creation of the draft scope statement as well.

When preparing the final scope statement, make sure it includes all essential business requirements and a contribution from each team member. Visualizing the system as a team to build the scope statement will help turn the initial “argh” into an “ahhh!”

Pat Yount has more than 16 years of experience managing a variety of IT projects, from client server and data warehouse projects to Internet projects. She has led projects to select and implement a variety of vendor packages, including e-mail, CRM, and data warehouse products.

More on gantthead

Related downloads:

“Relationship Management Vendor Evaluation (Short List)”

“System Scope”

“Siebel Scope Statement”

“Statement of Principles”

“Vendor Selection Questionnaire Checklist”

Related content:

Package Selection department

Project Management department

Program Management Office department

“It’s Okay To Be Subjective During Vendor Selection,” by Vyom Bhuta

“State Your Case and Make Them Hear It,” by Dave Paradi

“Theory of PMO Evolution,” by Jim Harris

“Weed Them Out!—Six Criteria for Software Vendor Selection,” by Vyom Bhuta

“What NOT to Miss in a Vendor Contract,” by Vyom Bhuta

NOTE: Items in bold are available only to gantthead premium members.

This article was originally published on gantthead on Oct. 22, 2001.