project scope

Managing Scope in Projects: How to Prevent “Mission-Creep” in Your Business Endeavours

The management of project scope is one of the most frequently overlooked issues in project management but is one that should be ignored at an organisation’s peril.

A project manager’s job is never an easy one, they have so many areas that they must consider which can be like a manic juggling act at times. In this article, we are going to look at the project manager’s responsibility in terms of scope of the project, but first let’s take a look at what else the project manager is responsible for.

– Time

– Resources

– Money

All of these are very important areas of project management, however scope is also important. Scope is defining exactly what the project will do, how big it will be, what its goals are, and what requirements are needed.

Although most of the other literature available on project management does not spend a lot of time talking about project scope, it is very important. Scope should be the first and last thing that you need to do.

The project scope clearly defines what this project should achieve, and how much it will cost (both in terms of time and money). If the project has changed in any way then the budget should also change to reflect this.

The project scope may be to build a bungalow and your budget may be $150,000, however if the scope changes and you need to build a two-story house then the budget must change in order to accommodate this. In other words, the scope and budget should be linked together. Unless the budget is adjusted the project manager doesn’t really have the resources required to complete the project to the new scope.

You might not see why the scope would ever need to change, however it can and does happen on a regular basis. Such changes normally occur slowly over time, small seemingly insignificant scope changes can quite easily pile up over time. Although these are minor changes, which are not, in themselves, very difficult to manage, the accumulation of these changes can make it much more of a problem.

As a project manager you must manage any changes in the project scope, no matter how small, as they will all affect the size of the budget. For example, if you are project managing the building of a home, then the addition of an awning may be very minor, however your client may want to continue adding extra changes until you are left with a completely different project.

Unless you are on top of the project scope and managing it properly then it’s not possible for you to manage the resources, money or time effectively. It is vital that the project scope is respected and updated on a regular basis. If anything changes, then be sure to re-evaluate the budget.

Once the project scope has been detailed and linked to the budget and timeline for the project, then you can begin planning the resources.

Many people do not think that project scope is very important, however without managing the scope the size and complexity of your project could very quickly get out of hand. The project scope should be used in a way to protect your business from extra work at no cost.


Critical Path Analysis: How to Calculate the Critical Path in a Project

The critical path is the series of tasks which must be completed within a specific timescale in order for the whole project to be completed on schedule.

Any task which is located on the critical path is of significant importance to the timing and workflow of the project.

The critical path is outlined in the activity network diagram, which is used to outline the path required for the successful completion of a project. The activity network diagram can be used to show which subtasks are very important to the success of the project. The critical path method is also known as CPM.

The activity network diagram is a very useful way of showing you which activities are important to ensure that the more complex project is completed on time. It is very time consuming to create one of these diagrams, however it is exceptionally important.

First you need to consider how complicated your project is, if your project has a number of paths then creating one diagram for each path might not be worth your while.

It’s only worth creating one of these diagrams if the subtasks have relatively accurate durations. If you don’t know the durations of the tasks then completing one of these diagrams may be a waste of time.

A CPM diagram is very important if you are dealing with tasks which could make or break the project. This diagram will ensure that the tasks are completed in a specific order with a specific amount of time.

How to Use CPM

First you need to make sure you have the right people on board, make sure that your team is devoted and possesses the right skills. The team also needs to be aware of the timing of the subtasks and all the other information required to get the project completed on time.

You should then try to break your project up into smaller subtask, and then you need to identify them all. It’s possible to do this by using brainstorms or by learning from your experiences with previous projects. You should then arrange the subtasks in the order that they should be completed in.

Try to assign certain durations to each subtask, write this on the card so that you don’t forget. You will be adding these numbers together later so make sure you use the same measurement, for example either record all the times in days or hours.

By adding all of the times together you will be able to work out how long the whole project will take; this is known as the critical path. The critical path shows tasks that must be completed on time in order for the project to remain on schedule.

Although the critical path shows no room for movement it can change as the project progresses. If a certain task is done faster than estimated then the critical path will change.

A critical path will help you to realise which tasks are the most important for the success of your project. By creating a critical path you will be able to manage your project much more effectively.