Scoping an Enterprise Website? Keys to Avoiding "Scope Creep"

May 17, 2011

Becoming a project-scoping ninja will help you contain costs, keep timelines on track, and in general make every project a lot easier to get done.
A lot of the secret to great scoping is avoiding scope creep - the slow growth of a small project into a big one. It’s one of the chief headaches of project managers. Fortunately, it’s easy to identify the top five reasons projects grow beyond their scope. Once you know what to look out for, it’s relatively easy to write a project scope that avoids scope creep from:

Revisions: 

It’s normal to want changes once you see the prototype of the site: suddenly, the search box that seemed so right in the upper left makes better sense in the upper right, now that you see the nearly-actual product in front of you. And a good product scope will allow for a certain reasonable number of changes, on a schedule that makes sure that changing a design won’t change the deadline of the project. Make sure you know how many changes you’re likely to make, which often depends on how many people are involved in the project, how they like to work, and how committed you are to early specs.

Testing Different Browser Versions:

Testing for different browser versions is critical to making sure your web site or application works well for all your users. But many times, it’s an afterthought to the web development process. Make sure you plan for the time it takes to test out every browser and specifically identify each version needed based on your users’ needs. Planning ahead for this step that’s basic, but so often overlooked ‘till the last minute, means you’ll really know how long your project will take.

Adding a Mobile Version of a Site:

As mobile is just now heating up, it’s not surprising that many people don’t have it on their radar at the start of their projects. Only as you think more about how people are going to use your site or application do you see the need for a mobile version. But building mobile plans in from the start means less time adding it in later, with everything from user interface design to support on the backend. If you even think mobile users play an important role in your marketing plan, build in some consideration for them.

Integrating Backend Systems with Your Website:

Often, determining what systems need to be integrated with your website involves what seems like an army of different departments. There’s the member database, controlled by membership, there are legacy systems that are the shared responsibility of two departments—the list can go on. It’s tempting to just move forward. It’s faster in the long run, though, to get make sure you’ve covered every system—including the ones that are just on the horizon. Nothing can expand the scope of a project faster than buying a new system, such as a CRM, halfway through the process that needs to be integrated with the site. Make sure every system that can be integrated is scoped.

Extra Stuff:

Sometimes, you decide that the existing project needs to grow. If something falls outside the scope of the original project, it might make more sense to add it on as an additional subproject, after the main one is completed. That way, the original project can still finish on time, and resourced don’t get cannibalized from one to the other.
 

 

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