The Importance of Thorough Upfront Scoping

By March 1, 2016Blog, Learn
The Importance of Project Scope - Leafcutter

When people engage our digital agency and talk about their project ideas and needs, we find that the detail behind what they are trying to achieve (i.e. the scope of work) can sometimes be lacking.

This presents many potential issues to all involved such as:

  1. Understanding the need. Without proper detailed documentation, it is difficult for us as solution providers to understand the full picture and devise an appropriate solution for our clients.
  2. Providing a quote. Without clear detailed scope requirements it becomes nearly impossible to provide an accurate solution and accompanying quote for a client. In order for a client to go to market and discuss their needs with vendors, they need to have a clear and well documented overview of their needs and the detail behind each item. On the flip side (the client side), you won’t be able to correctly budget for the project without a clear scope outlined upfront. Changes down the track as a project progresses through phases has an exponentially higher impact to costs versus if they were clearly outlined upfront at the start of a project.
  3. Comparing apples with apples. Without a clear detailed scope and requirements document, it will be near impossible to assess vendor solutions and proposals equally. Without clear direction and understanding, you will be presented with multiple solutions and bundles of services that will often confuse you and be near impossible to navigate through easily to make the most appropriate vendor decision.
  4. Convincing stakeholders of the business case. Every stakeholder needs to be convinced of the need to invest substantially into any initiative. A website, web application or mobile app is no different. For the best chance at convincing upper management stakeholders of the need and value to invest, you need to ensure you have covered all key points and present a case that provides the full picture.

As illustrated it is hugely important to spend the time and money to get a professional and fully featured scope of work drawn up. If you don’t have the professional skills in house to break this down, it is totally worth considering employing a professional or an agency to help with the process to ensure your ducks are in a row from the get go.

Common outcomes that arise as a result of insufficient clarity around scopes of work are:

  1. Scope creep. The need for additional budget and extending of delivery timeframes due to new requirements not previously discussed at the start of a project.
  2. Uncertainty and unclarity. The feeling that there will be potential issues delivering an end result to the project that will actually drive the intended outcomes and objectives due to the lack of clarity from the start.
  3. Scope confusion. The feeling that what is being proposed is unclear as neither party (vendor or client) has a tight grip on the purpose or objectives this investment is set out to achieve. The goal posts will continue to change if not clear from the start – which causes confusion and stress for all involved.
  4. Total project failure. In absolute worst case scenarios, the result of poor scope can completely destroy credibility and relationships with internal and external stakeholders and totally derail an intended project. Something you obviously want to avoid at all costs.

None of these outcomes are conducive to a smoothly progressing, purposeful and outcome driven project – which at the end of the day is what we all want and is essential to driving high quality outcomes on projects.

So to conclude, the message in this article is clear:

BEFORE YOU  START A WEBSITE, WEB APPLICATION, OR MOBILE APP PROJECT, CLEARLY OUTLINE WHAT YOU HOPE TO ACHIEVE AND WHAT SPECIFIC FUNCTIONALITY YOU NEED THE PRODUCT TO DELIVER FOR YOU.

It is always a good idea to have someone with experience and professional technical expertise to assess your scope and fill in the gaps. They will see things and bring up points that you may not have thought about or considered yet. An example could be the requirement for a system needing to allow users to transact online, a digital consultant will ask what transaction payment gateways you want to use and if your merchant accounts with those gateways is currently set up or not.

If you would like help to prepare your project scope, get in touch with our team and engage us to help you get a well documented, crystal clear scope together for your next project.