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Monitoring Scope

Monitoring Scope

Author: Jeff Carroll

This lesson provides an overview of monitoring project scope

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Video Transcription

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Hi, I'm Jeff. And in this lesson, we'll learn how a project manager monitors the scope and the quality of a project's results. So let's get started.

It's the project manager's responsibility to confirm a projects deliverables, meet the requirements, and the criteria established in the project scope. And that all deliverables are being created. This is necessary for a projects success, so it's a critical role.

If the project manager discovers that deliverables are not meeting standards, then the project manager will initiate action to address the issue, or to revise the scope criteria. For example, what if our project is tasked to create a video game that teaches players how to drive a car?

If the project manager discovers that the game is enjoyable, but that players are crashing cars all the time, what action should they take? Well, if the primary goal of the game is to teach people to drive, then the project manager would need to add or change resources to fix the problem with the driving portion of the game. The project manager would need to be aware of the impacts to schedule, and to budget while making this change. But if the work is necessary for the product to succeed, then this is the likely path to take.

However, if the goal of the game was merely to have fun, perhaps the project manager would suggest a change in the scope requirements that states the driving portion is not necessary. It's important for the project manager to keep the goal of the project in mind, and not just focus solely on the deliverables. Again, the project manager would need to make sure the changes could be made without significant harm to the schedule or budget. The project manager would also need to initiate a change request with the stakeholders and project sponsor. We'll cover those steps in another lesson.

When too many changes continue to be made throughout a project's life cycle though, this can cause a project to fail or be canceled. This is called scope creep. When a project has requirements that are difficult to define, scope creep is a danger. New requirements and deliverables are often added to the project far past the planning phase. This can also occur when new stakeholders, who have new opinions, are added to a project after the initial phases.

The project manager must be diligent when defining scope, even if the requirements are difficult to define. And if the project manager expects many changes to be made, then they should consider processes that handle scope changes better, such as iterative development, which we covered in an earlier lesson. Scope creep can also occur at the project team level. This occurs when the project manager has not communicated the requirements clearly to the team.

For example, in the video driving game, if one of the programmers thought that the game needed to handle both off road and highway driving when the game was only focused on road travel, then that programmer might add features that were not needed for the final product. Unexpected or unneeded work will impact the schedule and the budget. That is why it is critical for a project manager to monitor tasks and costs closely to find indications of scope creep occurring.

When changes occur on a project that cause deliverables to differ from scope, the project manager should be aware of those changes before they happen, so that change management and approval procedures can happen. Any changes outside of the project managers knowledge is a risk to the project.

All right, well done. In this lesson, we learned how a project manager monitors the scope and the quality for a project. And how scope creep can be a danger to a projects success. Thanks for listening. And have a great day.

Notes on "Monitoring Scope"

Key Terms

Monitoring Scope

The process of ensuring that work being performed is meeting expected deliverables and satisfying requirements.

Scope Creep

Uncontrolled expansion of a project scope through the creation of additional requirements or deliverables.

Source: Image of bullseye, female project manager, driving wheel, Creative Commons, Kelly Eddington; Image of arrow with feathers, tablet computer, male at laptop, arrow, Images by Video Scribe, License held by Jeff Carroll.

Terms to Know
Monitoring Schedule

The process of continuously tracking schedule progress for all project activities against baseline to ensure that a project is delivered as planned.

Project Actuals

The amount of time and/or effort spent completing each project task.

Project Estimates

Estimates relating to time, cost and resources that will be needed to achieve project deliverables.

Project Overruns

Increase to schedule or budget when project tasks take longer to complete or cost more to complete than projected.

Task Completion Monitoring

Tracking progress of project tasks to determine if actual completion is on target.