It's a common assumption that the success of a particular project depends largely on organization, the management of resources and people management. The truth is, however, that none of these will matter if you don't start out on the right foot. Which is exactly why writing a project scope is crucial for the success of any project.
This document is perhaps the most important one in your initial project plan. A project scope statement gives your client a clear idea of what the end result of the project will be, and clearly states your limitations and assumptions when you're working on it.
If your scope statement is vague and unclear, however, it'll leave several things to open interpretation and might create confusion between you and your client. They might assume you're promising one thing and you might assume something entirely different.
In order to help you avoid situations like this, I've collected the seven most important things you need to keep in mind when writing a project scope.
Make sure that you're clear when you write your project scope and that your clients will understand its content. State all your points clearly and emphasise any particular aspects that you want your client to remember.
Try to make sure that your document is brief and to the point as well. Writing unnecessarily long scope statements will only result in stakeholders, management and your team members skimming through them, which might lead to problems later on. Your scope statement is a way to protect your project and yourself. If your client rejects the results because of a limitation that you've already covered in the document, you'll be safe.
2. Scope description
Your project addresses a need in the market, so make sure to highlight that in your scope statement. Essentially, you need to provide a brief description of the purpose of your project and how it's going to help your client's business. For example, if you're required to build a website for them, you need to highlight how the site is supposed to help them and how it would function.
You should also mention all the problems or opportunities that might come along with your project. The intention behind this section is to give all people involved the complete information. This way, if any issues emerge, they'll be aware of the cause and will understand if there are some delays. Full disclosure of potential problems and hindrances is important at this stage. Writing about these might make you uncomfortable, but it also protects you and your team.
3. Design instructions
In this section, you need to specify the mode of communication, the format of documentation and the deliverables. For example, if you need certain aspects of your project sent to you via email, or to a particular email address, make sure to mention that.
You also need to make it clear what kind of document format should be used. For example, you might require all documents in a PDF format for that particular project. You'll also need to specify labelling instructions and establish communication lines for every aspect of your project.
4. Technical instructions
Like the design requirements, technical instructions also need to be clearly defined when writing a project scope, since some projects might require a different piece of hardware or software. You might need to lay down certain procedures for maintenance and technical support as well. You will also need to highlight different options for storage, and print and paper quality wherever required.
5. Target audience
Your team needs to understand and have a clear picture of the target audience in order to meet their requirements. For example, if your project involves creating a magazine for a particular business, your team needs to know who the main targets of the business are. If the business is catering to teenage boys, the content of the magazine needs to be in accordance with that.
You team also needs to know about the level of sophistication amongst your target audience, and whether the audience has good knowledge of the industry or if they're comfortable with technology.
6. Project duration
After you have created a thorough and detailed plan for your project, you might have a better idea about the timeline. In your scope statement, make sure to specify the estimated duration of your project and list how much time each phase is going to take. Emphasise that the timeline is a general estimate and doesn't account for unexpected delays and problems.
7. Conditions and assumptions
One of the most important parts of a project scope is a list of all your conditions and assumptions. Make sure to explain what these specific conditions are, and make it clear to the stake holders and managers that you and your team will work on a particular project only if these conditions are met. This is necessary to protect you from the consequences of unexpected delays or risks.
Only when all parties agree to this section can the project move forward. This establishes the general guidelines that everyone involved in your project, from the client to your team, must understand. This section should include the number of hours you would work in a day, as well payment schedules, mode of payment and other relevant information.
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