Saturday, August 4, 2007

Creating a Scope Document

The Scope Document is created to list the scope of work that will be completed at the end of a specified time frame. It can be utilized in any development methodology, but is most prominent in the Waterfall or Spiral methodologies.

The document is extremely important for companies that operate on a fixed cost business model, because it serves as a written reference for the functionality that will be delivered in the final solution. Once completed, the document is usually given to the client, along with a presentation and Q/A session. The client then has a specified time frame for review, after which they can request any changes. Once both the company and the client agree to the work specified, the document is signed and the work can begin. This type of model allows for the client to know exactly what to expect of the final functionality of the solution while allowing the company to plan resources and base prices on the estimates of work.

As development managers the task of creating much of the scope document will fall to you. It is very important to follow some basic overall guidelines when creating the scope document.

1. The scope document will be used as the official description of functionality for both the client and for the time estimates used to price the project. Because of this, it is very important that the document list a high level overview of all the main functionality that will be included in the solution. It is a good idea to include as much visual representation of functionality as possible within this document to help the client understand exactly what they are buying.

2. The language used should be as non-technical as possible. The purpose of this document is not to identify the technical means of providing the functionality, but to define the functionality in such a way that the client can understand.

3. The document should include a list of "Assumptions". The assumptions can include technical details to a certain level, such as the hosting environment (when applicable), the development platform, and the target client (i.e. Windows OS, target browsers, etc).

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