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Scope Creep: All Things Truly Wicked Start from an Innocence

Looking up at the evening sky I see sweeping black clouds of birds blocking the warm orange rays of the sun and the shimmering blue reflections of the Pacific Ocean.

Scope Creep: All Things Truly Wicked Start from an InnocenceEvery evening in South Orange County at sundown, thousands of ravens fly Southwest across the sky. On this evening, I happen to be in the foothills of the mountain range where the nightly pageant is even more pronounced then what I normally experience at my home in the low lands. Initially, you see a few innocent birds fly by, minutes might pass then a flock will come floating by, sometimes silent but other times squawking to others further ahead. Then, when you least expect it, the sky is clouded with a mesmerizing and overwhelming blanket of black ravens that blocks the warmth of the sun.

I have seen the “raven” effect when new and previously unstated requirements along with subsequent product scope changes start out as a trickle, and then later expand and cloud the vision, direction, and execution of an active project. One of the greatest challenges of a Microsoft Dynamics NAV project managers is ensuring that the product scope of the project is adequately defined before the commencement of project execution. A product scope that changes on an active project can in turn cause the project scope to expand, which can cripple the project and make balancing project constraints improbable or impossible for the project manager.

What steps can a Dynamics NAV project manager perform before the execution of a project starts to better identify stakeholder requirements and adequately refine product scope? Here are five very simple business analysis steps that can help:

  1. Identify and document individuals and groups of stakeholders that will be influenced by the project
  2. Elicit and document stakeholder requirements from the stakeholders through individual interviews, document analysis, observation, prototyping, surveys, or requirements workshops
  3. Confirm the stated stakeholder requirements with stakeholders through interviews and observation
  4. Have the stakeholder requirements formally approved by the stakeholder(s) responsible for approving requirements.
  5. Package and communicate to stakeholders the confirmed requirements in the form of use cases, user stories, process flow charts, or narratives

Performing five simple business analysis steps can help minimize the "raven" effect on projects and let the project manager better identify requirements and solidify product scope before project execution begins. A stable product scope will help keep project scope in check, which in turn should ensure greater project success.



1. "All Things Truly Wicked Start from an Innocence" is a quote from Ernest Hemingway.

2. IIBA defines “Product Scope” as “The features and functions that characterize a product, service or result.”

3. IIBA defines “Project Scope” as “The work that must be performed to deliver a product, service, or result with the specified features and functions.”

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