In Team Skill 4, Managing Scope, we learned that the problem of project scope is endemic. Projects typically are initiated with approximately twice the amount of functionality that the team can reasonably implement in a quality manner. This shouldn't surprise us since it is the nature of the beast : customers want more, marketing wants more, and we want more, too. We just need to put ourselves on a diet sufficient to make sure that we can deliver something on time.
We looked at various techniques for setting priorities, and we defined the notion of the baseline ”an agreed-to understanding of what the system will do ”as a key project work product, our touchstone and reference point for decisions and assessment. We learned that if scope and the concomitant expectations exceed reality, in all probability, some bad news is about to be delivered. We decided on a philosophy of approach that engages our customer in the hard decisions. After all, we are just the resources, not the decision makers ; it's the customer's project. So the question is, "What exactly must be accomplished in the next release, given the resources available to the project?"
Even then, we expect to do some negotiating. All of life, and certainly all of business, is a negotiation in a sense, and we shouldn't be surprised by this either. We briefly mentioned a few negotiation skills and hinted that the team may need to use these skills on occasion.
We cannot expect that this process will make the scope challenge go away, any more than any other single process will solve the problems of the application development world. However, the steps we have outlined can be expected to have a material effect on the scope of the problem, allowing application developers to focus on critical subsets and to deliver high-quality systems incrementally that meet or exceed the expectations of the user . Further, engaging the customer in helping solve the scope management problem increases commitment on the part of both parties and fosters improved communication and trust between the customer and the application development teams . With a comprehensive definition of the product (the Vision document) in hand and scope managed to a reasonable level, although it's too early to start bragging, we at least have the opportunity to succeed in the next phases of the project.