Your benefits' value is controlled by your scope and portfolio management processes

Two controllers of value

The definition of what is contained within a project’s “scope” has become quite extensive and hard to manage. ‘Scope’ is defined as including acceptance criteria, key requirements and more. This is all too confusing and leads to the wrong behavior.

Scope should clearly define the boundaries of the project — what is in scope, what is not in scope.

Where you draw your boundaries determines your value opportunity. If your boundaries are set too tightly at the outset you can miss significant value. However, if your project’s scope is too broad, you can spend too much time and money on low value opportunities.

The two types of scope management

So TOP uses a simple two-step scope definition approach to optimized the value delivered:

  • First you define a broad “Opportunity scope” to discover where the value is.
  • Then you define a narrower “Solution scope” to focus the delivery project on the areas of greatest value.

It is this ‘solution scope’ that is then subject to rigorous control to protect the business value within the agreed boundaries throughout the project.

The role of portfolio management

Portfolio management exerts a very different type of control on benefits and their value.

  • At the business case stage portfolio management ensures the claimed benefits are reasonable, realizable and not already claimed by another project.
  • During project delivery it ensures the project is on track to deliver the available value and is not losing value due to either internal or external changes that make the investment no longer viable.
  • And, after the end of the project, works with the business to ensure the available value is fully realized so as to deliver the optimum ROI to the organization.

Controlling value

The key to controlling the value available from your project investment is that

  • Define your opportunity scope to identify where the most value is (and not miss any significant value through too tight a scope)
  • Treat the subsequent solution scope as a control, not a variable. The solution scope should be seen as sacrosanct and not to be changed during the project.
  • View the scope as a key value-control tool, not as a cost-control lever. So changes to scope are seen to result in changes to the value.
  • Assess project-claimed benefits at the portfolio level for consistency and uniqueness.
  • Monitor the project to ensure it is always focused on and able to deliver the promised benefits and value.
  • Pursue the realization of the benefits after the project has been closed down and the project team has gone.

These are all processes that need to be actively managed to maximize and control the business value delivered.

Topics: Value Delivery, Project Controls, Strategic Project Portfolio Management, Value Equation, Benefits Management, Scope Management


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Revision History

First published: Simms, J. (Nov 2012) as "Simplified Value-Focused Scope And Portfolio Management"

Updated: Chapman, A. (March 2020), Revisions and corrections