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.

Planning Process Group Process – Define Scope


Define scope is second Scope Management Knowledge Area process in Planning Process Group. For any project scope definition is an important & mandatory step. All the work & only the work that is scoped as part of scope statement is performed in the project. All others requirements outside the scope statement is considered as Scope Creep (change of scope) which will be avoided for project success (which may not be true in practical scenario). Here is the mind map for “Define Scope” process.

Define Scope Process - Scope Management Knowledge Area - Planning Process Group

Define Scope Process - Scope Management Knowledge Area - Planning Process Group

Important Note:

* Note# 1: There could be some typo or presentation errors. Please reply back for any corrections.

* Note# 2: You can use this for personal use (like studying for PMP Exam or PM activities). But don’t share this in common forum or web sites. As this one is part of my training guide and project management book.