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Sunday, February 1, 2015

PMP Series – Project Scope Management - Part 1



The Project Management Professional exam is one of the few that can be overwhelming at the beginning because of the amount of information that a candidate has to go through in order to be ready for the examination. 

These series of posts will provide a guide to preparing for the Project Management Professional Exam. In this particular post, we will focus on Project Scope Management, one of the knowledge areas that you have to be proficient in so as to pass the PMP exam. We will explore the five processes in this knowledge area, including the inputs, tools and techniques and outputs of these processes.

Important Note: The PMI certified reference book for the PMP exam is the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), also known as the Project Manager’s Bible. However, reading this book alone can be very inundating. You should use other support materials that you might find easier to read. A pre-requisite for the exam is that you undergo formal training. I strongly recommend that you take the training because, aside from receiving guidance from a formal instructor, you get to discuss topics with people from different projects and learn from their experiences.

Projects are divided into 5 phases: 

  • Initiating, 
  • Planning, 
  • Execution, 
  • Monitoring/Controlling and 
  • Closing.


The PMBOK also divides project Management into nine knowledge areas:

* Project Scope Management
* Project Time Management
* Project Cost Management
* Project Quality Management
* Project Integration Management
* Project Communication Management
* Project Human Resource Management
* Project Risk Management

For each of these knowledge areas, there are some project management processes that need to be carried out in order to be able to successfully manage the project. PMI will test your understanding of these processes and how they interact together to aid the successful initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, controlling and closure of projects.

In total, there are 42 processes spread across these 5 process groups. For the exam, you should take some time to get familiar with the processes and their process groups/knowledge areas. You should also understand how each process relates with each other. The outputs of some of the processes serve as inputs to other processes.

In order to pass the exam you should assume the role of a project manager and be able to justify your decisions based not only on the concepts that you have learnt while studying for the exam but also on your work experience both as a project team member and as a project manager.
The rest of this post will be dedicated to understanding Project Scope Management.

PROJECT SCOPE MANAGEMENT

Project scope management involves managing the extent of the project. The concept here is to ensure that ALL the work to be done is included and ONLY the work to be done is included. Scope management also involves ensuring that the work that was agreed to be done is the work that has been done before the project is certified as completed. Project Scope Management includes 5 processes:


  1. Collect Requirements
  2. Define Scope
  3. Create Work Breakdown Structure
  4. Verify Scope
  5. Control Scope


The Requirements Collection phase involves gathering all the requirements from the stakeholders. The stakeholders are usually documented in a stakeholder register and the high level documentation of the project is usually contained in the project charter. The project charter also appoints and authorizes the project manager to take charge of the project. These two documents (project charter and stakeholder register) serve as inputs for the process of requirements collection.

A stakeholder is anyone who has an impact on (or is impacted by) the project. Assuming we have a project where we are required to build an e-commerce website, in order to collect requirements you need to talk to every one whose opinion will count when the website is eventually built. This ranges from the sponsor of the project all the way to the eventual user of the website.

Armed with these documents, you will conduct your research qualitatively (using interviews, focus groups, facilitated workshops) and quantitatively (using observations, surveys and prototypes) in order to determine the requirements of the project. The tools and techniques employed (interviews, focus groups, etc.) help you generate requirements, a plan for managing them and a document for tracking their origin and state throughout the project. This document is called the requirement’s traceability matrix. These three documents are the outputs of this process.

Scope Definition typically involves creating the project scope statement from the high level information (in the project charter) and the requirements you have gathered during the requirements collection process. As a project manager, you should employ expert advice from your team in doing this. Close attention should be paid to the eventual goal of the project and alternatives should also be explored. The output of this process is the scope statement. You should sign off the scope statement with the client to ensure that you are on the same page.

Work Breakdown Structure Creation involves dividing the entire project work into smaller bits until you have reached manageable units of work that can be easily controlled as individual entities. The small unit of work is called a work package. The goal here is that the units must be clear, measurable, assignable and easy to control. This is decomposing the requirements and project scope statement until you reach manageable units of work.

The output of this process is a Work breakdown structure, which is a chart that shows the decomposed project (a sample from Wikipedia is shown below) and a dictionary created to explain the content of the WBS. The WBS, WBS dictionary and the project scope statement are the three documents that form the scope baseline of a project.

The first three processes in the Project scope management are part of the planning process group of the project. You should ensure that you have a work breakdown structure stating all your work packages before you move into the execution phase of the project. The remaining two processes in project scope management are in the monitoring and controlling process group of the project.

Scope Verification happens after we have started receiving deliverables on the project. It involves formally accepting the deliverables of a project. For the PMI exam, it is important to note that the goal of this process is NOT validating the deliverables. The process of validating the deliverables is carried out in a different process (Quality Control). This process focuses on inspecting the validated deliverables to ensure they meet the original requirements of the project as defined in the requirements documents.

As a project manager, you should carry out scope verification with the project sponsor and any issues raised during the scope verification process should be addressed using change requests. A change request typically expands, adjusts, or reduces the project scope. You should also pay attention to the impact that changes in the scope would cause on the other constraints of the project (time, cost and quality). 

One of the most critical aspects of the project manager’s job is controlling the scope throughout the project. This involves monitoring the project to ensure that there are no changes to the cost baseline which is not controlled. As a project manager, your job is not to forbid changes entirely; instead, your job is to ensure that if changes are to occur, the correct integrated change control process is followed. This ensures that all the stakeholders are aware of the change and more importantly, they are aware of the impact that the change has on the entire project. This stakeholder expectation management is a critical part of your job as the project manager.

When the changes in the project scope are not controlled, this situation is called a scope creep. A scope creep can occur both from the client and the project team, and it’s the job of the project manager to prevent them. Even when you estimate that you can over deliver on a project and exceed the client’s expectations, the best practice is that you should not. Exceeding the customer’s expectations beyond the scope of the project is called gold plating and it is a form of scope creeping. A good project manager performs regular checks to measure changes (also called variances) to the baseline in order to catch any scope creeps before it’s too late.

A summary of the five processes that make up the project scope management process is shown in the diagram below.


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