PMbasics: Scope and deliverables

After project manager has basic concept of a project (purpose, objectives, phase) he’ll begin defining  project scope and deliverables. Scope is simply everything included in the project usually scope includes specific objectives of the project, deliverables, tasks, costs and deadlines. Deliverable is consider as a subject (tangible or intangible) produced within the project or as a result arising from the project’s task or activity.

When defining the scope a good approach would be to divide the project in main deliverables, e.g. phase ends delivering building permits. Tools and techniques for defining scope is product analysis / key deliverable (often the result of a project is product), analysis of stakeholders and many others. Completion of scope defining manifests as a scope in written form, each deliverable should also have a written record in the form of a defined plan of activities and the cost of each deliverable.

The reason for the poor performance of project management usually is “scope creep”; large, unplanned and uncontrolled change in the scope, which leads us to exceeding the time limit and the cost, and often degradation.

Here is an example. 🙂

City of Denver (Colorado, USA) a few years ago started a huge project of modernizing the system of luggage manipulation (objectives and key deliverable) i.e. automation of check-in procedure at the airport and all other activities related to the luggage of its passengers (scope). The project should’ve been finished in two years but in the end was exceeded for more than two years and $560 million (cost and time). How did this happen? Very large changes in the scope “scope creep” happened for couple of reasons and all of them pointed to the ill-defined scope and ill-defined major deliverables. First, the analysis of the product wasn’t done appropriately and experts had advised to increase the volume and a given period for at least four years. Second, analysis of stakeholders was superficial and they were involved in the project too late; Denver first defined the scope and then included all airlines which have eventually required a large increase in the scope (e.g. different transmission system for heavy luggage). The conclusion is that project manager has to be very careful and systematic in defining project’s scope and  main deliverables. Any conclusions should be recorded in written form and given to all stakeholders for verification.


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