This first item on the Project Manager's agenda when commencing a project is usually to define the scope. In many corporations either a Project Charter or a PID is created and approved before the project is authorised. This single document contains the scope of the project and the business justification. Importantly, this document authorises the project to go ahead and confirms the name of the Project Manager.
The scope document is often referred to throughout the life cycle of the project and is used by all stakeholders to confirm the direction of the project. Where the Initiation document provides an outline of the scope, a further breakdown and detail must be confirmed.
My current project is having difficulty defining the scope. Some of this is due to budget reasons and some of it is down to communication issues. My current client is a Japanese bank. The communication issue is not just the language, but the culture. I have previously written an article relating to the culture of a Japanese corporation.
We have been defining the scope of the project and creating options for management to decide on the full scope of the project. The project could easily be split into several projects, with a more phased approach, however, technically this is not a requirement and financially, this many prove to be more expensive and extend the project time.
The main concern is around the business risk. There is a large risk with not doing anything, so we know that we have to do something. However, the secondary risks have only been discussed within IT and have not been escalated to the business. This is the communication issue. As the Project Manager, I have been able to present many options and different budgets for each option. All of the approaches have been agreed my IT Management both in Europe and Japan, where the Head Office and the Global IT Director resides.
The issue comes from higher up in the corporate hierarchy, where they have less understanding of the technical issues within IT. The management at the top level understand the immediate risks and agree that the first phase of the project should be approved. They do not understand the second phase, as this has never been communicated to them.
Producing the scope of this project has been a challenge, as management cannot agree. In this situation, all I can provide is facts, in terms of costs, time, risk and resource requirements. It is down to management and the Project Sponsor to confirm the full scope and to decide on the direction of the project.
This has been a strange role for me at this early stage of the project, as usually the scope is clearly defined and I have usually been selected as the Project Manager. This role is more of a consultancy role, rather than a straight forward, traditional Project Manager.
I am enjoying the challenge and I will continue to define the most important part of the Project: The Scope.