Framing Your Requirements

Defining product and project scope provides us with the critical framework for requirements development. In order to define the scope of the project’s end result (the product) and the project’s implementation needs (the project itself), it is critical to understand the difference between product and project scope and which one should be addressed first in the requirements development process.  

The product scope should be your basis for determining the project scope. Typically, the project manager determines the cost and time based on the product scope, or the solution to the problem. Doing it any other way increases the risk of project failure—not on time, over budget, or not completely delivered. Defining the product scope is typically the responsibility of the business or requirements analyst. Product scope is defined as part of requirements development, which is one phase of the project life cycle.                                  

It is a best practice for the business analyst to define the product scope before the project manager addresses the project scope. The product, being the solution to the problem and the end result of a project, must be defined before we can reasonably expect to determine the scope of the project. The clearer you make the distinction, especially with upper level management, the more likelihood there is of success in delivering a product within the framework of your project.

Your scope documents and artifacts, regardless of what they are and whose standards are followed, define what the product is—the solution to the business problem. Defining product scope and then project scope makes both requirements definition and project management much easier and more process-driven.

Susan Weese

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