A man draws out a project plan on a whiteboard.

How to Determine an IT Project’s Scope

It is said the only thing constant in life is change. In business, change means projects. And, in our technology-driven business world, many of these projects will be IT-based.  

Projects are 2.5 times more successful when proven project management practices are used. So it makes sense to take time to do them right. Before you begin working on a project, you need to know its scope. Whether it’s creating a new website, updating your technology infrastructure, or migrating to the cloud, it’s best to be aware of what your goals are, what potential obstacles you may encounter, and what time and resources it’s going to take to get the job done.

We put together a brief guide to help with IT project scoping.

Define Objectives

First things first. You and your team need to define what you are trying to accomplish with the project. A good rule of thumb is to follow the proven project management acronym: SMART. Your project needs to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and completed within a specific Timeframe.

For instance, maybe you are looking to install Office 365 to streamline communications and simplify document sharing. Great. How are you hoping this will impact your overall workflow? Get specific. Our guess is that you’re looking to boost productivity and gain peace of mind knowing your staff an access important documents remotely.

Now, can you measure this project’s success after implementation? Sure. You can monitor employee output after project completion.

Next, is the project achievable and realistic to accomplish with the resources you have? Or, will you need to enlist the help of a professional? Whichever you choose is fine. You know your company’s resources best. Assessing this at the beginning of the project will help eliminate a frantic search for an IT consultant mid-way through critical implementation.

Finally, decide on a timeframe for completing the project. This will depend on a variety of factors: what other projects you have in place, which workflows will be disrupted during implementation, who needs to be involved in the process and their schedules, whether there’s a specific internal or external deadline driving the project, how long data migration will take, etc.

Being clear on your objectives will help eliminate misunderstandings and keep your team on the same page throughout the IT project.

Identify Potential Obstacles

The fact is, life happens. And it tends to happen the way it wants, not the way we envision. Ideally, everything will go according to plan. But it’s best to be prepared for exceptions and delays.

What if someone with a critical role in the IT project’s implementation is out sick, or if data doesn’t migrate correctly (backup beforehand!), or if a part you need to complete the project doesn’t make it on time?

Before you get started on your project, make a list of the possible stumbling blocks and how you will handle them if they arise. You’ll feel more prepared. And, if something does end up happening, you’ll be able to manage it more effectively.

Determine Needs

Once you’ve confirmed that your project is realistic and determined how to overcome potential obstacles, you should make a list of the resources you need to complete it. Which staff are required to complete steps (and when), how much will it cost to finish the project correctly, and how much time is expected for specific tasks?

Based on your objectives and potential problems, you should be able to answer these questions and determine the resources to allocate for the IT project.

Moving Forward with your IT Project

Once you know your project scope, be sure to run it by everyone involved and get their approval. You want to avoid stopping to change direction in the midst of your work unless it’s necessary. And, if you need any help along the way, you can give us a call. We’re always here to help you get the most out of your IT.