What is out of scope is sometimes more important than what is in.

I have worked on several projects where I thought I had a good understanding of the aspects that should be worked on but did not spell out what should not be worked on or impacted. This process helps limit or eliminate scope creep as well as limit the ability of your project messing something else up. What I found out through bumps and bruises is that several factors should be reviewed and then put to paper before launching a project:

Data / Information – How accurate or reliable is the information coming out of this part of the process? There have been times that I have had to exclude parts of a process due to non-existent, poor or not reliable information. There has also been occasions when the scope has significantly changed to focus just on Measurement System Analysis or other tools prior to starting the bigger project.

Cost – Some clients take parts of a project out of scope due to Capex or other expense related issues. This is an alternative when there are improvements to be made and working on engagement with the team but the full impact will not be possible. This is usually not a win-win but a realistic compromise depending on the culture and climate of the organization.

Resources – Sometimes the team or the organization doesn’t have the subject matter experts or the ability to free up enough people to get everything that is needed performed. This is almost always the case and it has to be addressed before project launch.

Time – We just don’t have the time to do this whole event. I hear this a lot and initially it has to be challenged. Challenged not from the standpoint of do more and stay late but if the leadership and champions think this event or project is important, what are you going to take off the plates of the participants so that they can do an effective job. This is never a popular discussion because the general belief is that everything everyone does is important and there are no wasted reports or emails or meetings. More on that later. Eventually, you can chip away at some of the daily work that is not value added but in the end you don’t want a team to move a drinking fountain nine months to complete either. There will be a compromise here as well.

Monuments or Organizational artifacts – These are the items that the organization deems untouchable. This needs to be challenged every step of the way. I was involved once on a team that the stated goal was to improve throughput for a site using their new equipment. One of the team members asked if we could utilize the older equipment to get to the production numbers. The answer was no because the new equipment was supposed to make the other equipment obsolete and anyway, the staff that ran the old equipment was laid-off because that was the ROI for the equipment. Over four months of work by a very competent team could not overcome that barrier. Don’t get me wrong, there were huge cultural and organizational issues at the site as well but the fact was that created about 12 months of poor customer performance. The older equipment did finally get turned back on for a limited basis and On Time In Full metrics started to climb.

In the end, the ability to say no to many ancillary items will help to make the project successful, manageable and limit downside risk.