ScienceSoft’s Approach to Defining Project Scope
Accurate scoping is required for a predictable software development project flow and confident cost estimation. ScienceSoft brings the proven practices and mature processes tuned over 34 years in IT to clearly define the project scope and effectively manage it throughout the project’s life cycle.
Why We Pay Close Attention to Project Scope
In software development, project scope defines the project goals, milestones, constraints, and deliverables. A well-designed project scope is essential for accurately planning the project flow and resources. It makes it easier to collaborate on solving unforeseen problems and facilitates the smooth implementation of workable project changes.
ScienceSoft’s scoping approach aims to reduce the risks of scope creep and restriction, ensure stakeholder agreement on the expected outcomes, and guarantee we develop exactly what our clients want.
What Can Go Wrong — And How We Make It Right
What can go wrong
How we make a difference
Problem #1: Incomplete requirements
IT vendors with poor requirement-gathering practices may fail to clearly communicate with clients and get the full picture of their needs, only focusing on one aspect of requirements (e.g., technical design or delivery timelines). It results in a vague, restricted, or oversized project scope.
Our experts thoroughly analyze the processes the software will support and conduct in-depth interviews with all customer stakeholders to elicit granular requirements for the solution and cooperation flow.
Problem #2: Gap in expectations
Some vendors hesitate to discuss scope constraints and limitations out of fear of losing the client. This leads to unrealistic client expectations and frustration due to inadequate project outcomes.
At ScienceSoft, we always estimate feasibility of approaches to be used in a project and openly communicate potential bottlenecks.
Problem #3: Uncontrollable scope creep
Introducing changes to a project without proper evaluation may result in an uncontrolled expansion of a project's original scope, also known as scope creep. This impedes project progress, negatively affecting the deliverable quality and derailing the schedule and budget.
We accurately document project scope, including scope exclusions and possible extensions. Our project managers assess the eligibility of all requested scope alterations and stay transparent about their potential impact to implement changes safely.
Problem #4: Resistance to change
Some vendors resist project adjustments (team, tech choices), even if they cut costs or provide higher quality. Sometimes, a vendor may even convince the client that a change is unfeasible and stay silent on its potential for improvement.
We always look out for value-adding improvements in scope, resources, and workflows to open opportunities for higher software quality with lower investments.
Customers’ subject matter experts may hesitate to share their problems and needs for personal reasons. For example, long-time employees may resist automation if they are more comfortable with their old routines — think of accountants loving their Excel spreadsheets and conservative workflows. To address the issue, we organize group interviews to engage each stakeholder in the discussion and gather the other participants’ opinions on the objectivity of provided information.
ScienceSoft’s Scoping Process
Business analysis and requirements engineering
Before the project starts, ScienceSoft’s consultants conduct an in-depth analysis of a customer’s needs, goals, constraints, and success vision. Depending on the project specifics, here’s what our experts can do:
- Interview client-side project stakeholders and subject matter experts to get a complete vision of the existing pains and the expected outcomes.
- Conduct workshops with the customer’s teams to openly discuss the challenges and possible solutions.
- Analyze the available software documentation.
- Make on-site visits to explore the customer’s operations and the unique workflows of the software end users.
- (For software products) Determine the target audience needs and perform competitor analysis to understand market trends and opportunities.
- Determine the relevant regulatory compliance requirements and assess the geopolitical and economic risks.
Our business analysts use the obtained information to engineer detailed requirements for the project. The list of requirements helps design the software tailored to the client’s needs and mind their timeline and budget expectations when planning the development flow. Having decades-long multi-domain expertise, our professionals consider industry-specific challenges and constraints to mitigate any potential risks. If there are conflicting requirements, we always strive to find a win-win solution and preserve critical deliverables.
Incorrect or vague requirements are one of the main factors that lead to costly scope changes later on, so a business analysis team’s job is to guarantee that the gathered requirements fully reflect the client’s expectations and leave no room for misinterpretation.
At this stage, we determine the deliverables, development steps, and resources to achieve project goals. Our project managers collaborate with business analysts and tech leads to define project roles, contributions, budget, and timelines.
We split the entire scope of work into time-bound manageable tasks, prioritize them according to their anticipated value for the client, and define the resources and efforts needed to achieve each project objective. A detailed work breakdown serves as the baseline to evaluate project success and weigh the eligibility of changes.
Well-thought-out resource allocation is essential for the actual deliverables to meet the agreed scope. When composing the project team, we consider not only our talents’ domain expertise and seniority but also their complementary skills and experience working on similar projects. It helps maximize team members’ involvement, speed up project start, and ensure effective communication and scope change management.
Preparing a project scope statement
At this stage, we create comprehensive scope documentation for stakeholders to understand project efforts and evaluate the progress. The project scope statement describes the following:
- Long-term goals and short-term objectives of the project.
- The required deliverables, critical milestones, and success criteria.
- The relationships between various requirements, multi-team tasks, and deliverables (we usually present them as a requirements traceability matrix and use it for the collaborative control of scope coverage throughout the project).
- The planned resources to deliver consistently.
- Major scope constraints (e.g., deadlines, budget, legal regulations).
- A procedure and control framework for project scope changes.
Explore our key scoping deliverables
Defining scope exclusions and potential extensions
Any tasks and goals not covered in the project scope statement are considered out of scope. However, our experience shows that, in some cases, creating an explicit list of scope exclusions and possible service extras may help all the stakeholders better understand project boundaries. We match each client’s expectations against our team’s capabilities to introduce a tailored list of restraints and extensions. This way, we prevent making the scope too wide or narrow while still leaving room for reasonable adjustments.
Getting buy-in from stakeholders
The scope is only accurate when approved by all key project stakeholders. We promote collaborative scope mapping to make sure all involved parties have a unified vision of the project idea and agree on the development plan.
Scope change management
We implement feasible scope changes as soon as our clients’ needs evolve and promptly tune the development course to meet the new requirements. We investigate change requests and recommend ways to alter the scope with minimal impact on other project constraints. In addition, our experts actively share their suggestions on scope optimization throughout the project to drive cost savings and enhance solution value for end users.
In Agile development projects, our clients can obtain prompt user feedback and quickly request changes to improve the solution. Here, we employ user stories (high-level requirements) as the base scope planning units, regularly add new story points to enable consistent software growth, and scope for each new Sprint to address the clients’ arising needs.
Our Customers on ScienceSoft’s Scope Management
Heather Owen Nigl
Chief Financial Officer
ScienceSoft’s team members proved to be extremely flexible and responsive. They stayed in daily contact with us, which allowed us to adjust the scope of works promptly and implement new requirements on the fly.
Electrochemical Cell Design and Test Engineer
Unilia Fuel Cells
We were satisfied with the quality and efficiency of the team’s work regardless of arising challenges. ScienceSoft’s experts promptly reacted to new solution requirements that appeared during the project without stalling its progress.
Deyarat Trading Co.
We appreciated ScienceSoft’s client-oriented approach, consistent collaboration across all the project stages, and flexibility to adjust to changes. ScienceSoft’s expert advice helped us reveal cost optimization opportunities and define the functionality to increase the solution’s value.