Whether you’re starting to work with a new client or embarking on a new project with an existing partner, developing a project scope is critical to successful project and account management.
While understanding budget and deliverables is an imperative first step, the following list presents four additional questions to consider as you create an effective and comprehensive project scope.
WHAT ARE THE GOALS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE PROJECT?
Starting with a conversation on objectives and goals (for both the individual project at hand and more holistically for the long-term view) is an important first step when kicking off a project.
By clearly stating what you’re trying to achieve and aligning your teams, you can be more strategic in your ongoing interactions, while simultaneously planning for successful outcomes. For consultive partners, defining goals early on helps to ensure feedback on the eventual deliverables is focused and effective.
WHAT DOES SUCCESS LOOK LIKE?
Once project goals and objectives are clear, it’s important to define success.
Objectively speaking, successful projects meet business goals, are delivered on time and on budget, and generate the expected value and ROI. Some goals are easily calculated, but others are more conceptual, qualitative, and subjective. Success can mean a multitude of things to different people, so make sure you and your team are aligned on expectations.
WHAT IS THE TIMELINE, AND ARE THERE KEY DATES ALONG THE WAY?
Are there deliverables that need to be presented or unveiled at a company-wide meeting? Or is there a launch date for a new product?
Your project will likely have several phases, so ensuring there’s an understanding of key dates and an overarching timeline is important. In doing so, you can establish milestones within the project scope. If the deliverables of the project are part of a larger initiative, missing a step along the way can throw everything off course and jeopardize completing the project on time and within budget. Aligning on timing and milestones early on also helps to ensure the allocation of resources to adequately address project needs.
WHO ARE THE KEY STAKEHOLDERS/DECISION MAKERS INVOLVED IN THIS PROJECT SCOPE?
Not only is understanding the timeline important, but it’s also necessary to determine who the key stakeholders/decision makers are and how much time is required to make decisions.
For example, is there a first step of the project when strategic alignment and approval are needed from the leadership team? If so, how quickly do they typically make decisions, and who has the final sign-off? Since gaining input and alignment from multiple parties can be time-consuming and often convoluted, it’s important to understand the dynamics ahead of time. In doing so, you can factor that into your schedule to develop an achievable timeline and keep the project on track.
A project scope influences the roadmap of the work to come and serves as a guide for project managers to align both internal and external stakeholders. It’s important to take the time to set expectations and define common goals, ultimately setting up everyone involved for success.