During the course of your project management career you are going to be faced with needing to justify new scope to a client who may view it as in scope of your project. This post will focus on how to effectively justify your new scope to a client and ensure that you get that change request signed!
Clear Statement of Work
Starting a project without a concise statement of work immediately should raise red flags for your organization. Without a clear statement of scope to work from, your project is going to be fighting scope creep the entire project which puts pressure on other aspects of your project and can lead you into a vicious cycle of constant project challenges. A good tip is to review the statement of work with your project sponsor immediately after your project kickoff to ensure that there is clear understanding of the scope that your project is to deliver. As a project manager you need to be intimately familiar with the scope of your project but your business analyst and technical lead should be just as familiar. Having a clear and concise statement of work makes that understanding all that much easier.
Flag Your New Scope Early
The reason you want to have your team members (at least your business analyst and technical lead) familiar with your scope is to help flag new scope as soon as it appears. There’s nothing worse than working on what turns out to be new scope and then having to go back to the client during or after the fact with your hat in hand asking for additional funds to complete the project. As your team members (who will likely be the first ones to uncover the new scope) find the additional items, it’s paramount that you get involved to not only understand what the new scope is but accurately depict why it is out of scope and then bring that to the customer. Diagnosing scope creep early on will do two things for your project – ensure that your scope is protected but also let the customer know that you and your team are vigilantly watching the scope of the project to ensure that nothing new gets in without going through proper change management.
Demonstrate Original Requirements without New Scope
A sure fire way to illustrate that the scope in question is new scope (and a good litmus test for your team) is to examine the original requirements and indicate to the customer how your original design would meet the needs (not including the new scope). Flesh out how the new scope will dictate additional design components (new screen, new workflow, output changes, etc.) and speak to your customer how the requirement itself is net new and which is why it requires the requisite design changes.
Scope management is a crucial skill for a project manager to have. But it’s also important to remember that it doesn’t always need to be the project manager to call out new scope. And not all customers will willingly accept scope as being considered new. What you can (and should) do as a good project manager is to ensure that your statement of work is solid (and understood by all), make sure that you are calling out new scope to your customer as soon as you see it and then working to illustrate why the new scope is truly a delta from the baseline that was agreed to at the outset of the project. These three tips won’t guarantee success with selling your new scope but you will certainly ensure that you are doing right by your project to protect your scope integrity.