2 Great Methods to Perfect Project Scope

A look into the three common problems found in project management, and two methods to prevent them.

James Gamble
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September 20, 2022

Within the fast-paced startup world, project management is an essential skill to have. Being able to create a unique product or service under a defined frame of time is a difficult task, and is often limited by constraints. Most commonly, time, cost, and scope cause issues, or even failure. Let's look at the most ambiguous and complex of these three constraints: scope.

There are three common problems that founders face with scope. First, over the course of the project, small new features are added and the goals are grown, slowly making the project unrealistic and too resource intensive to achieve. The second problem is similar to this, but in the form of a single, large extension of the project, causing the same problem as before. Finally, when the project team doesn’t understand the scope of the project, differences in understanding often leads to failure. 

So how can you prevent these problems? There are two common models that are used, known as Agile and Waterfall. They both have advantages over each other, and careful consideration should be taken to what your startup’s team needs and what model fits the project. 

Waterfall is known as the more ‘traditional’ model for project scope. It works as a very linear model: the project is broken down into steps, with each needing to be finished before the next is started. The Waterfall model works well because it is easy to plan and design, the project is not dependent on customer presence, and since all aspects are planned initially, there are no added elements that may not fit with the project. That being said, there are drawbacks to using Waterfall as well. Poorly created requirements for the steps can cause issues in team understanding, and waterfall is more rigid, meaning if the customer is dissatisfied with the product, adaptation is resource-intensive. 

The Agile model is a newer model. It focuses on incremental processes with high emphasis on limiting project scope. The Agile model does this by setting the minimum number of requirements and turning them into a working product. The biggest benefit of this model is that you can consistently show your product to customers to see whether they find it to be suitable or not. However, with the fast paced environment that the Agile method requires, having a dedicated and interconnected team is essential for success; otherwise, plans may need to be revised and roadblocks will emerge. 

Both styles of project management have distinct benefits and disadvantages. For any solo founder starting projects, it is best not to look at one as better than the other, but as situational tools: For a more stable and lower risk situation, the Waterfall method excels. As a startup continues to grow and a developed team is established, the Agile method will excel in customer interaction. With careful consideration, your startup’s projects can become more organized, efficient, and deliver the results the customer needs.

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