What we fail to appreciate in Project Scope Baseline
Recently I came across a story that some workers threw away diamonds worth $5M while moving a jewelry store. Of course, unknowingly. This mistake was realised soon and the precious stones were recovered.
Sometimes, I wonder if we project managers do the same with scope baseline! We do not realise the value of scope baseline like the movers who unknowingly threw away diamonds.
It is much easier to appreciate schedule baseline and cost baseline. They are expressed in terms of days, months or years and dollar respectively.
Scope baseline is probably more intricate. Scope baseline includes scope statement, WBS (Work Breakdown Structure) and WBS Dictionary. Further the scope statement, in turn, contains the product scope, assumptions, constraints, deliverables and acceptance criteria etc. (Phew!). A newbie project manager may get put off by so much of detail. But an experienced project manager would know that a comprehensive scope baseline is his / her best friend. Let me tell you how by getting into the innards of the scope baseline.
Product scope is the sum total of products, services and results of the project. Make a note that this would include all the three - products, services and results. Imagine you are about to deliver an ERP module to your customer and they ask for training as an obvious (to them) expectation. Had you documented the product scope comprehensively and got a sign off, you would have also looked for any service expectation, for example training here, well in advance.
Exclusions may be a part of project scope baseline. Remember, a project would have many stakeholders and they in turn would have their own expectations. Like “Hey, I would love to see a translator to Klingon in this version of the phone.” It’s important to explicitly mention what the project’s product won’t do (“Sorry, Klingon? No, some release later”) so that some stakeholders don’t bother you later.
This is not yet over. There is more to come. Watch this space.
About the Author
Mukund Toro is an independent Project Management Consultant who has worked with more than 1000 project managers. His 20+ years’ industry experience in software and telecommunication includes working in various capacities from project manager to director across multinationals, product and service companies and government research organisations.