Project Management Approach and Scope Creep

August 29, 2016 by ProductDossier

I came across some discussions what should be proper Project Management Approach. Whether the Project Management should be focused on managing people, the team, without the need to understand the project content. Another approach is to understand the project content and participate on even lead the project content creation.
Project Management Approach – Focus on People Management
I met numerous people that had a strong opinion that understand the domain your team is working within is not necessary or even something that can undermine the capability to successfully manage the team or project. This group of people prefers just to be focused on managing people performance. It’s called People Management.
It basically means:
• You pass the goal definition to the team with the task to elaborate the path to the goal and prepare Project plan with all the task, effort estimates, budget…
• Your team is reporting the work progress and you check the work progress just according to the plan and ask then unpleasant questions in case the team is not on track.
• In a case of any issue pops up you ask the team for solution proposal or action you have to make to resolve the issue. I have experience with a guy asking the team for action he can execute by a short phone call. I see some value of this approach.

Project Management Approach – Focus to Content
I’ve got my personal experience with Project Managers from another part of the world; with opposite Project Management approach then People Management. They are in some; more or less; focused on the content creation of any form. I once had lady PM on the interview. She had brilliant CV, I almost felt like beginner comparing my experience with her. What I understand as a result of the interview? She was actually doing business analysis in the position of Project Manager.
Typical aspects of Content Focus:
• Participation in content creation that grows up to the commitment to craft real deliverables. It can effectively block PM from PM work thus paralyze her/him.
• Preparation of project plan, effort estimates, resource plans that can again range from facilitation of the project team workshops to sole development of all plans needed.
• Active or even proactive issue resolution with the active generation of possible solution options with the variable participation of her/his project mates.
Project Management Approach – What is the best approach?
A good challenging question. Like always. What is the best Project Management Approach? And the answer is? Like always. Good balance of both sides of the world. Sorry, just my opinion. I love to create things, to generate ideas, strategies and even to participate in detail work. I love working with my team. Lead them through the course of the project.
Understand or even participate in content creation and delivery will give you feel of success, help you to report the Project progress during steering committee meetings. You will be fast in your decision making and issue resolution.
What’s the trick? You should be able to flexibly move between these two poles of the world as necessary. Sometimes you can go and create something when there is space for it or your team is in trouble. Sometimes you have to set back from creativity and let your team their job and you should go to do yours.
Project Scope
Any Project Manager with any real project experience knows that Project Manager’s life is not easy. There is one thing that could make your project road a little less bumpy. This sacred item is a Project Scope. It has to protect you against the Scope creep.

What is the Project Scope?
Project scope is in fact definition of what is required to be delivered (created, implemented, etc.) by executing the Project. In addition to that definition of what is NOT expected to be delivered always pays off as well.
Project scope can be expressed by many means. It depends on used methodology or project standards of the company you’re working for. The situation is different if you are the vendor or you are internal Project Manager. Then you usually work with different types of document. It can be Project Scope Document, Statement of Work (SOW), Project Definition Document and much more. However, the aim of the document is the same. You need something that clearly states what is required to be delivered and what is not.
What is the Scope Creep?
Scope creep is a nightmare not only for Project Manager. It usually means that you are getting out of defined scope. You can be out by many ways. You can be pushed to deliver more, less or something different than originally defined. In any case, you are heading to serious trouble if this is not under control. You can actually change anything if this is required by your client and you keep other project parameters under control.
What do I mean saying “under control”, It means everything is approved by Steering Committee and you are able to deliver it within defined framework i.e. Scope, time, effort, resources, and money.

How to Avoid Scope Creep
Scope Creep is usually tricky to manage. In the worst case, you’re the one who does it. Why? Because you want to deliver something really good for your business (good) regardless what is specified in the Project Scope Document (bad).
You will be always in the push of change the scope either by yourself or any stakeholder. You should allow them to change the Project scope. It’s natural that requirements are getting clarified, better understood or changing during the course of the project.
To avoid the Scope creep i.e. uncontrolled changes of the Project Scope it should be executed under the governance of Change Management Process.

How Change Management protects you from Scope Creep?
Using Change Management means any required change of the Project Scope has to be documented. On each Change Request (CR) you have to execute Impact analysis to understand what the Change Request means for effort, time, money and required resources. Then you need to get it approved by appropriate project governance body; usually a Steering Committee. Once it’s approved you need to adjust your plans accordingly.
Having formal Change Request process established it will protect you from unwanted Project Scope Changes – Scope Creep. In addition to that to create and process the Change Request requires quite some effort. It will naturally filter out most of the ideas with low business value. If somebody request something without willing to spend energy to create and process the Change Request, it has most probably low value for her/him and for the business as well.

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