Unpacking the prob­lem


The biggest mis­take in soft­ware de­vel­op­ment (and it’s one that is un­for­tu­nately re­peated too of­ten) is rush­ing or skip­ping the Scope phase. To liken it to an­other in­dus­try, it’s like try­ing to build a house with­out blue­prints. Investing the time at the start of the pro­ject will sig­nif­i­cantly mit­i­gate risks down the track.

The pur­pose of scope is two-fold, firstly to dive deeper into the prob­lem state­ment and de­sign a so­lu­tion and sec­ondly, pre­pare that so­lu­tion for de­vel­op­ment. It is im­por­tant for a scope to fo­cus on a man­age­able body of work, in­stead of a pro­duc­t’s en­tire roadmap. Scoping out one build at a time makes the pro­ject more ag­ile and al­lows the de­liv­ery team to de­liver value ear­lier and of­ten.

Scoping is per­formed by a Product Designer and a Product Developer from the Product team. Having these two spe­cial­i­ties en­ables the team to con­sider so­lu­tions from not only the user’s per­spec­tive, but also the tech­ni­cal fea­si­bil­ity of its im­ple­men­ta­tion. It is also im­por­tant to in­volve the cus­tomer’s key de­ci­sion mak­ers and stake­hold­ers in the process, so that every­one is on the same page and is sat­is­fied with the di­rec­tion the scope is tak­ing. Customer Success Consultants are also in­volved here to ed­u­cate and man­age cus­tomer ex­pec­ta­tions and con­tribute in­sights from a com­mer­cial per­spec­tive.

In gen­eral, a scope should de­liver the fol­low­ing arte­facts for an up­com­ing build:

  • Scope doc­u­ment
  • Non-functional pro­to­type
  • Requirement’s back­log
  • Database model
  • Estimations
  • Projected roadmap for the prod­uct

Realising these de­liv­er­ables for a rea­son­ably sized build typ­i­cally takes be­tween 2 and 5 weeks in length. Teams can scope for longer, how­ever this in­di­cates that they are scop­ing out too much and in­tro­duces risk dur­ing de­vel­op­ment. Our re­search has found that there is a 90% cor­re­la­tion be­tween the scope length and the sub­se­quent de­vel­op­ment length. The more that is scoped out into the fu­ture, the more un­knowns and un­cer­tain­ties are in­tro­duced into the pro­ject.

Scope infographic Scope infographic

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