Business Owners Overlook Scoping

Business owners want to save time and money, and web and application development is no exception. This is why often times business owners overlook the value in properly scoping a development project.  Most development companies will offer to provide a deep scope of work, and will often charge their clients accordingly. 90% of the time the client will want to bypass this crucial step to avoid the extra cost and to get business through the door, the development company will oblige.  With little or no foresight, a contract is signed and building begins.

Project Scope: Project scope is the part of project planning that involves determining and documenting a list of specific project goals, deliverables, tasks and deadlines.
[Source: Margaret Rouse, http://searchcio.techtarget.com/definition/project-scope]

Scope Creep

Sometime into the project, say about 3-4 weeks in, scope creep sets in.  Without having laid out a plan, new features and new ideas make their way into building while forgotten ideas are never developed.

Scope creep in project management refers to uncontrolled changes or continuous growth in a project’s scope. This can occur when the scope of a project is not properly defined, documented, or controlled. It is generally considered harmful. [Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scope_creep]

The Winchester House

The building of the Winchester House commences. In the late 1800s Sarah Winchester, heiress to the Winchester Rifle fortune, began developing what is now known as the Winchester Mystery House. The project started with an unfurnished farmhouse with 8 bedrooms that Sarah Winchester was never satisfied with. Scope creep kicked in and she never stopped building. Mrs. Winchester ended up with a mammoth of a home – 24,000 square feet at a cost of 5.5 million dollars (about $100m in today’s dollars).

Winchester House 910px.jpg
Winchester House 910px” by Original uploader was Gentgeen at en.wikipedia – Originally from en.wikipedia; description page is/was here. http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/travel/santaclara/win.htm. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

If you have been to the house, you would also see that the architecture doesn’t make sense. The building has hallways leading to nowhere, strange levels, and stairs going into fake doors.

Not Properly Scoping is Costly Mistake

Dev can have very similar results when you start on something without first thinking it through. You end up with applications with unnecessary code bloat, at a cost of 20x.

This is why it is important to slow down, invest time upfront to come up with a real plan of action, and think ahead even 2 years in advance. Some of the best development projects take as long to plan as they do to execute. Do not discount the importance of scope, or you may end up with a Winchester house in your hands.