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Scope Creep Part 4 (#4 in the series Scope Creep)
By Thomas Cutting

In our quest to eliminate Scope Creep, we have covered Definition and Documentation. The next item is to ensure that everyone is in agreement.

Approval. Ideally a formal approval process should be followed. This includes time to read the document, review it with the project manager and accept it. Formal acceptance used to mean wet signatures, but with today’s technology it can be a formal email approval or through a document management system. Whatever the method, it should clearly state what is being approved and, if applicable, the version and date of the item approved. This helps avoid confusion later on when six completely different version exist in various inboxes.

Any major groups discussed or assigned responsibilities in the scope statement should have either review or approval authority. Review authority allows them to suggest changes to the document and approval authority shows ownership in the outcome.

Some people have trouble with this type of commitment. I have heard horror stories about companies that never signed anything. They consider verbal “encouragement” and project funding to indicate you can proceed, but actually approving anything is out of the question. I’m sure this gives them, and their lawyers, a sense of security. In reality they are actually less secure. Without a clear understanding of the expectations from all the involved groups the project is placed at risk. If your management is approval-adverse consider allowing a statement with the approval that says, in effect, “Approval of this document is for purpose of project definition and does not imply financial or guarantee acceptance of the final product.”

Check with the lawyers. I’m sure they can get you verbiage they can live with within a week…after your project completes.

Thomas Cutting, PMP is the owner of Cutting’s Edge (http://www.cuttingsedge.com/) and is a speaker, writer, trainer and mentor. He offers nearly random Project Management insights from a very diverse background that covers entertainment, retail, insurance, banking, healthcare and automotive verticals. He delivers real world, practical lessons learned with a twist of humor. Thomas has spoken at PMI and PSQT Conferences and is a regular contributor to several Project Management sites. He has a blog at (http://cuttingsedgepm.blogspot.com).

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