Control in Software Project Management Part II

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Defining Scope and Maintaining Control

During the acquisition of a project, the scope of the work is agreed to between the stakeholders. However, scope constantly changes during the project execution phase, and this is often referred to as “scope creep” By the end of the project, we find that there is a significant gap between what was originally agreed to and what was finally delivered. “Scope Creep” is mainly due to:

  1. Insufficient or improper understanding of user requirements at the project acquisition stage: In the eagerness to acquire the project, the marketing department may over-commit without a proportionate increase in the cost, effort, and schedule estimates.
  2. Ambitious commitment of scope without fully realizing the implications inherent to the scope statements: Often, projects are accepted stating the scope of work without realizing the scope implications. Later on, during requirements analysis or software design, the scope implications are unearthed, but you then cannot go back to negotiate the implications of schedule, cost, and effort. Technological capabilities are sometimes not properly understood during the project acquisition stage, but the implications may come out during project execution and result in scope creep.
  3. Improperly or poorly trained business analysts: If the business analysts are not capable of precisely defining the scope of a project, it can lead to scope creep during project execution. We need to ensure that business analysts are competent to determine the implications of a scope statement.
  4. Change requests during the execution of the project: Change requests are part of project execution, but lack of a proper change management process or non-conformance to the same can lead to scope creep. With an appropriate change management process, a company can ensure that increases in scope come with a concomitant adjustment of cost, schedule, and effort.
  5. Process, templates, checklists: A well-defined process for gathering requirements, scope commitment and review ensures that the scope is carefully committed. Checklists, standards, and guidelines assists the negotiators in accurately judging the scope of work

We need to remember that scope creep affects everything, including cost, schedule, and effort. Therefore, it is always important to control the scope of work diligently during project execution.

Cost Control

Effort is a major component in a software development project.

Effort is impacted by:

  1. Poor productivity – which could be the result of:
    • Poor supervision
    • Lack of proper tools for software development
    • Lack of proper infrastructure resulting in a loss of time. This stems from low-quality hardware and software, poor power supply or outages, lack of right common facilities, lighting, ventilation, environmental control, etc.
    • Poor HR practices resulting in low motivation or morale in the organization
  2. Scope Creep
  3. Change Requests

Therefore, we need to ensure that productivity is maintained at the levels committed to during project acquisition.