What methods & techniques are used in Project Scoping?


One of my blog reader asked me following question – “identify the principles, methods and techniques used for scoping a project?” In reply I wrote a mail explaining all the methods & techniques that is generally practiced for scoping of project. I am sharing the mail content here for everyone’s benefit.

Scoping a project involves two step process – gathering requirements & defining the scope with collected information.
Before I mention about the principles, methods & techniques for scoping, let me present some of my views about Scoping in Project:
  • Project Scope should cover everything that satisfies the customer need
  • Arriving final approved scope is very challenging task among all the activities in Project Management
  • Defining & Managing Scope is the backbone for Project Management
  • It is not a single person’s activity & it involves a group of people mainly project stakeholders. Lot of group interactions will be carried out during the requirement gathering & defining scope
  • Scoping is so vital which affects all other important factors in Project like schedule (hence delivery), cost, resources and risks
  • Generally high level of scope is available as part of Project Charter
  • Enough time need to be given to prepare & review for project scope before approval. Also any scope change after approval is going to affect the Project’s outcome
  • It is not necessary that entire project scope should be defined & available at the start of a project. It is progressively elaborated.
Requirements gathering uses various elicitation (data gathering) techniques to document exact need of the customer. Some of the group elicitation techniques are:
1. Facilitated workshops – An elicitation technique using focused sessions that bring key cross-functional stakeholders together to define product requirements
2. Focus groups – An elicitation technique that brings together pre-qualified stakeholders and subject matter experts to learn about their expectations and attitudes about a proposed product, service, or result
3. Group creativity techniques – Techniques like Brainstorming, nominal group technique, mind-mapping, affinity diagram, Multicriteria decision analysis are used to gather the requirements & define the scope
4. Group decision-making techniques – Decision on gathered information arrived using analytic hierarchy process, voting/democratic methods. Final decision will be arrived by any one of the below methods – unanimity, majority, plurality, dictatorship.
Inputs from subject matter experts(SME) plays a major role in the requirements gathering. Here are some techniques that involves SME’s:
1. Expert judgment – Judgment provided based upon expertise in an application area, knowledge area, discipline, industry, etc., as appropriate for the project scoping.
2. Interviews – A formal or informal approach to elicit information from stakeholders by talking to them directly. Different question types (like open-ended, close-ended, etc) are used to gather the requirements
3. Questionnaires and surveys – Written sets of questions designed to quickly accumulate information from a large number of respondents
Other methods to scope the project is to perform analysis on available information.
1. Document analysis – An elicitation technique that analyzes existing documentation and identifies information relevant to the requirements
2. Product analysis – For projects that have a product as a deliverable, it is a tool to define scope that generally means asking questions about a product and forming answers to describe the use, characteristics, and other the relevant aspects of what is going to be manufactured
3. Alternatives generation – A technique used to develop as many potential options as possible in order to identify different approaches.
4. Context diagrams – A visual depiction of the product scope showing a business system (process, equipment, computer system, etc.), and how people and other systems (actors) interact with it
Prototyping is creating models of deliverables help in understanding the need & articulate the requirements. Sometimes requirements gathering is performed by observation of tasks being carried out & noting down the processes, pain points and exact user steps
Here are the pointers for further reading:
Requirement Elicitation Techniques – http://www.umsl.edu/~ycnx6/  (Retrieved on 01/06/2014)
Ten Requirements Gathering Techniques – http://tynerblain.com/blog/2006/11/21/ten-requirements-gathering-techniques/  (Retrieved on 01/06/2014)
Elicitation Techniques for Processes, Rules, and Requirements – http://tynerblain.com/blog/2007/09/13/elicitation-techniques-2/  (Retrieved on 01/06/2014)
Analytic Hierarchy Process – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analytic_hierarchy_process  (Retrieved on 01/06/2014)
Of course you need to go through PMBOK 5th Edition as reference to get universal definitions.

One thought on “What methods & techniques are used in Project Scoping?

  1. Hi Babou Srinivasan;
    Thanks for sharing the great article, describing about the methods & techniques used in Project Scoping. keep sharing.

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