Project documentation series – How to avoid awkward scope creep conversations.

Complex projects can run smoothly with ample planning & proper documentation. Detailing objectives, functionality, prioritization, the inclusions & exclusions can help mitigate difficult conversations that delay projects & sour working relationships. Furthermore, a single project’s hiccups can affect capacity planning & cash flow.

In this series, we’re going to highlight various scenarios that may arise during a project that illustrates how proper documentation can help avoid awkward scope creep conversations.

Scenario 1 – A misunderstanding of what is included in scope of work or how a certain feature functions. 

Client: “I thought this feature was included. I know we discussed it.”

Many ideas & features are discussed in a discovery process, but not all make it into the scope of work or are part of the build direction. Without a collective approval of the project details, misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the project’s execution can, and will, arise – especially with more complex projects. A client’s perception of what was agreed upon may differ from the production team’s perception, & differing perceptions created a reality disconnect.

Improper/Incomplete Documentation

  • Functionality Specification Document - There are no functional details documented & agreed upon regarding the component in question.
  • MoSCoW Document – A MoSCoW Document does not exist. You don’t have a listing of Must Have, Should Have, Could Have, Won’t Have

You’re now faced with a tough discussion which will result in either:

(a) disappointing/upsetting your client by not including a feature they thought was part or the project deliverables.

(b) having to include unforeseen work within the same budget & timeline.

Proper Project Management

If the Project Brief or RFP is extensive or complex, devote a proportionate amount time with your internal team & the client sorting out the details in the Discovery & Define phases of the project. It’s the “measure twice, cut once” methodology.

Ample discovery allows for accurate & thorough documentation, and the documentation is your production roadmap – it tells you where you started from & what points to navigate along the way to your destination.

Additionally, proper documentation forces the collective to draft a thoughtful strategy/way forward in the initial stages – saving time & costs of having to make pivots while already in production or unearthing ________________________. More importantly, it removes any misinformed expectations or interpretations of project discussions.

Benefits to proper project documentation:

  • Accurate scope of work (to determine project deliverables, pricing & timeline)
  • Clear direction / roadmap for execution
  • Collective approval by all parties
  • Set appropriate expectations (will haves, won’t haves, will do, won’t do)

Proper documentation forces your team to devote time planning a thoughtful strategy/way forward in the initial stages – saving time & costs of having to make pivots while already in production. More importantly, it removes any misinformed expectations or interpretations of project discussions.