Business

Why SMEs should embrace project scope management

Like the A-Team in the 80s, businesses just love it when a plan comes together
Scott King

ANY child of the 80s will be familiar with the phrase "I love it when a plan comes together". I have spent many Saturday afternoons watching the A-Team develop and execute an almost impossible plan. But putting theatrics aside, this is an example of a multidisciplinary team coming together, each contributing in their own way to making the plan a success.

So how can you adopt this approach for your business? Project scope management is a strong starting point. Creating a well-devised plan is crucial for successful project execution. It helps to effectively manage stakeholders' expectations and ensure that all of the project's elements are aligned with its objectives.

Project scope management allows you to identify and document all project objectives, goals, deliverables, deadlines, and budgets during the planning process. Modifications are common in project management, particularly for large projects. Therefore, your project plan should be dynamic – try using simple collaborative document tools available on Microsoft 365 and elsewhere, to create a live document that multiple users can input into.

Keeping an eye on the expectations of stakeholders and clients can prove challenging when managing a project. However, by clearly defining scope and setting timelines, a project manager can ensure deadline goals are met, and that time is efficiently used throughout the life cycle of a project.

Project scope management is particularly important for small businesses, as it enables them to identify and support the mitigation of issues, including the moving of goalposts. Otherwise, it is easy to lose sight of the end goal and find yourself diverted off course halfway through the project.

Failure to prioritise and adhere to budget reviews and deadlines can also be detrimental to the success of a project. Furthermore, regularly changing the requirements will create a completely different outcome to the one that you had anticipated or need. Once you end up at the wrong station, it can be a long ride back to the start.

A clear, consistent, and transparent project plan will help your client to develop confidence in your process. It will also allow you to detail what you are doing, why you are doing it and how it will help them to achieve their objectives. A project plan will illustrate the path to success and allow your client to visualise it.

Another key advantage of project scope management is that it facilitates the identification of resources, along with business capacity planning. Taking stock of these areas will ensure that you aren't ‘running before you can walk'. Moving forward before you're ready can add significantly to timescales and create confusion. This confusion will negatively impact both on your team and on your client's confidence in the process.

I believe the implementation of scope management in a project is essential and is never a difficult task. It requires effort, time, and patience but this is an investment that is worth making and that can deliver significant wins for your business.

My personal preference is to adopt a hybrid approach. Try working with a consultant who can guide you through the initial stages of the project. In theory, hybrid project management means that you can take any formal methodology and combine it with another.

To avoid biting off more than you can chew, choose only two project management methodologies to start with, such as Agile and PRINCE2. Identify what you do and don't like about them, then discuss how you will use each.

Finally, remember to regularly re-evaluate and adjust accordingly. These are the key steppingstones to successful project scope management for small businesses.

:: Dr Scott King is director at Pinnacle Growth Group (https://pinnaclegrowth.group)