Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A 4-step Approach to Scope Verification

As a project manager, you will need to prepare for a critical inspection of the project work. The inspection of the work results usually occurs at a meeting with project team members and key stakeholders. When conducted properly, this critical inspection verifies that all deliverables and work results are completed according to the project plan.

The project manager is frequently asked to facilitate the inspection meeting. There are four steps for facilitating a scope verification inspection meeting.
  1. First, you need to choose the appropriate reviewers who will attend the inspection meeting.
  2. Next, revisit project goals so that all of the reviewers are aware of the direction of the project.
  3. Then you should review the work results to compare the project's product to the expected deliverables as outlined in the WBS.
  4. Finally, you need to decide on appropriate action as a result of the scope verification.
Even before the actual inspection meeting begins, the project manager needs to choose appropriate reviewers. In addition to the project manager and at least one project team member, you may want to ask the following people to attend the meeting:
  • Subject Matter Expert (SME) - An SME acts as an adviser to the project team when the team needs external expertise. SMEs should attend the inspection meetings to provide the team with the necessary advice and to verify the results of the work.
  • Project Sponsor - The project sponsor is the individual or group that provides the financial resources for the project. The project sponsor should attend the inspection when the project is a new or risky venture. It is not necessary to include the project sponsor for projects that are repetitive or recurring.
  • Customers - The customer is any individual or organization that will use the project's product. It could be the client or outside consumers. Customers should attend the inspection meeting when their cooperation is essential for the project.

The next step in facilitating a scope verification inspection meeting is to revisit the project goals. The meeting facilitator needs to ensure that all reviewers are aware of the original purpose of the project and of the goal of the inspection meeting.
As the meeting facilitator, you need to explain to the inspection team members that they will compare the actual work results to the planned scope of the project to ensure that project results are acceptable.

Once all of the reviewers are aware of the purpose of the project and the inspection meeting, the inspection team should review the work results and do the following:
  • Identify any omissions in the product that were in the original plan.
  • Verify whether the omissions, if any, were approved through a scope change.
  • Note any oversights in the work results.
  • Ensure that all documentation is available.
  • Note any exceptions or deviations from the project baseline.
  • Note any discrepancies (variances) between the work results and the scope baseline.
  • Note any violations of industry or client standards.
After reviewing the work results, the inspection team needs to decide on appropriate action. In a scope verification inspection, there are three actions that you may choose from, depending on the outcome of the meeting.
  1. The inspection team can accept the work results if the planned scope and the work results match. There should be no unapproved deviations from the plan when you accept the work results.

  2. The reviewers at the inspection meeting should request minor changes if it won't affect the project budget or schedule. Minor changes could include asking for slight product modifications or for more detailed documentation.

  3. The inspection team should reject the work results if there are obvious and substantial deviations from the planned scope. If the changes required to fix the deviations cause cost overruns or put the project behind schedule, the reviewers should reject the work results.
Before presenting your project to the client for final acceptance, you can use the tools and techniques for scope verification to ensure that the work results are acceptable. Remember to perform a careful and thorough inspection.

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