Sunday, September 2, 2007

What Inputs Will You Need for Project Scope Verification?

Have you ever facilitated a meeting or given a seminar without being fully prepared? If you have, you understand how important preparation is. Preparation is the key to the success of any venture, including project scope verification. It is important to start off well when preparing for scope verification. This means gathering all of the necessary documentation (inputs) in advance of the verification process.

The inputs to scope verification are:
  • work result
  • product documentation
  • work breakdown structure (WBS)
  • scope statement
  • project plan.
The first two inputs to scope verification—work results and product documentation—are directly linked to the work that has been completed on the project.
Work results are tangible or intangible outcomes of the activities performed to complete the project. Product documentation is the paperwork produced that describes the project's product.

The next three inputs to scope verification—the work breakdown structure (WBS), scope statement, and project plan—are all used to compare the product to the original plan.

The WBS contains the entire project scope or all the work that you need to complete in order to deliver the product. It is a hierarchical diagram that allows you to see the project scope at a glance. Since the WBS aids in the definition of the project scope, it should be used to develop and confirm an understanding of the project scope and deliverables.

The first level of the WBS contains the major elements or phases of the project. Many of your projects may look the same at this level if they have common deliverables.

The lower levels of the WBS show the continued breakdown of the phases. Each descending level represents an increasingly detailed description of project deliverables. A complex project will have several levels in the WBS.

In the scope verification process, the scope statement has a similar function to that of the WBS. It provides a documented basis for project decisions.

The scope statement usually has four main sections.
  1. Project justification - This section of the scope statement identifies why the project exists. It describes the business need that the project will address. You can use this section of the scope statement to verify that the project's product satisfies the business need it was intended to fulfill.

  2. Project's product - The project's product describes what the project will produce. It is a brief summary of the product's attributes and characteristics. During the scope verification process, you should compare this section of the scope statement to the actual work results of the project.

  3. Project deliverables - The project deliverables is a list that summarizes the subproducts whose satisfactory delivery marks completion of the project. This list should also tell you when the deliverables will be completed. You can use this section of the scope statement to ensure that all project deliverables were produced.

  4. Project objectives - Project objectives are the quantifiable criteria that must be met for the project to be considered successful. This section answers the question of "How do you know that the project is a success?" You should evaluate the degree of success of the project during scope verification.
The last input to scope verification—the project plan—acts as a road map. The project plan shows you how to arrive at the final destination. In scope verification, you use the project plan to ensure the team follows all the necessary steps.

When it comes to ensuring product acceptance and achieving project goals, scope verification is one of a project manager's greatest assets. Understanding the inputs to scope verification will help you to gain the acceptance you need to move forward with the project.

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