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Scoping Workshop – Plan and Tips for Scope Session in Software Projects
The more time we spend analyzing and understanding these aspects at the very beginning of the project, the better the end product will become.
Yet, how can we do it? This is where the project scoping workshops come into play.
What is a Scoping Workshop?
A Scoping workshop is a session where all the stakeholders gather and discuss the details and objectives of the project.
Scoping workshop provides an excellent opportunity to clarify the needs of the project, disclose areas that haven’t been considered earlier, and understand risks. Typically, successful scoping sessions allow you to prepare the project backlog and move the team closer to starting specific work.
Scoping workshops are invaluable when the project requirements are on the general level and the company is unable to specify the product backlog accurately. They are also an effective way to commence the project, involving all the relevant parties and allowing them to dig deeper into the details and the goal of the product to be developed.
The scoping workshops and the workshop results help prepare a clear project plan. Thus, they speed up the project launch.
Why do You Need Scoping Workshop?
Once you set up the project team, usually, each member will have different levels of knowledge and understanding of the project. Moreover, they will have various opinions on the importance and relevance of the project. This situation is completely normal and understandable.
However, team members must align with the project scope and accountabilities at the initial phase of the project. It enables everyone to know each other’s role and by when and how their work will be assembled. All the activities in a scoping workshop improve ownership and alignment with the project scope.
How to Plan a Scoping Workshop?
First, invite all the members of your team who you think can actively contribute to the workshop. For instance, these people can include the CEO, CTO, COO, software architect, product manager, developers, and designers. Before the meeting, collect all the materials you have, such as notes, user flow samples, and some drafts. They will help your team to better understand the main idea of the project.
Note that the main purpose of a scoping workshop is to answer questions while managing chaos and brainstorming. There, everyone will try to express their opinions during the discussion. A few example questions you can ask during a scoping workshop are as follows:
- What’s the problem we are trying to address?
- Who are the users, and what are their expectations?
- What are the ways for gathering business requirements?
- What’s the composition of my team? Who will be involved?
- What’s the timeline of the project?
- What is the budget for the project?
- When do we need to launch the project?
- What are the benefits for the user/company?
Likewise, you need to prepare a list of questions related to each aspect, including the objectives, data, end-users, process, flow, current environment, inputs and outputs, and project goals. Ask these questions from the team during the meeting, and discuss and gather the most relevant answers.
This information helps you to create the project scoping document. Some projects may require specific knowledge and deep analysis.
No two scoping sessions are the same. It all depends on what we start with and how many materials we were able to prepare beforehand. Sometimes clients come to us with just a preliminary list of functionalities. In other cases, they bring us a very precise plan for the entire system or application. That’s why the main goal is to be flexible and plan scoping sessions tailored to the project. COO, ASPER BROTHERS Let's Talk
Benefits of a Scoping Session
Now let’s look at the benefits you can gain through a scoping session.
1. Provides a good understanding of both the client and the contractor
Some clients approach software development companies with well-defined projects, while others simply have an idea about the final product. During scoping workshops, the participants conduct user research and analyze the target market to get a better idea about both the client and end-users.
2. Provides a defined scope of work
During the workshop, the development team discusses with the client the functionality of the software, what is within the project scope and what is not. They also define the goals that need to be achieved, considering both the technical perspective and the business perspective. All these things lead to defined project scope, allowing developers to set priorities and achieve the set milestones.
3. A thorough analysis of the software product
Participants conduct the business, technical and creative analysis during the scoping session. They consider core functionalities and bring out new ideas for solutions. Furthermore, they conduct market research and competition analysis by checking similar products of competitor companies. All these things help ensure that the product will achieve the needs of target users.
While custom software development can be expensive, a scoping session contributes to cost savings. It enables the team to understand the business requirements better and adjust the services to the project budget.
5. The ability to sort out all the details
This point is equally important for all the participants. During the workshop, they will create a comprehensive product plan that lets them sort out all the information, such as the project timeline, functional specifications, user tasks, and core features.
Stakeholders can easily find anything they want since all this information is in order and in a single location. Moreover, all the members, including even those who joined the project later, can access this prepared plan anytime in the development process.
5. Discover missing opportunities, strengths, and weaknesses
Scoping sessions are an effective way to overcome potential challenges and gain a fresh perspective. Methods like user personas, SWOT analysis, and Priority Matrix help find missing points and conduct research to resolve them.
Who Should be Involved in a Scoping Workshop?
The client, project managers, designers, developers, and other stakeholders are the typical participants of a scoping workshop. The participation of all the interested parties will help bring exciting, innovative ideas.
Therefore, invite all the members of your team who may actively collaborate within the workshop.
What are the stages of a Scoping Workshop?
There are six steps in a typical scoping workshop, as listed below.
1. Collecting the right people
The product owner should attend from the client side. Attendance of the project manager, tech lead, designer, and developer is recommended from the side of the development company.
2. Recognizing each other
A scoping workshop is a good opportunity to get to know each other well. So you don’t have to wait until the latter stages of the project to identify any personality conflicts that hinder the progress of the entire project.
3. Understanding the goal
What are you going to accomplish? What problems are you trying to address? A scoping workshop allows you to define business goals and create a project scoping document to get everyone on the same page. From that point, the project team can brainstorm the best way to achieve those goals.
It’s not usual for a development idea to follow a single straight line as there are several ways to proceed with the development process. A scoping workshop allows both sides to brainstorm and find the best option. Clients can ask questions while the development team can provide answers and solutions.
A scoping workshop is a great place to identify project priorities. There, we collect all the necessary data and prepare a report that includes the project roadmap, timeline, project budget, and anything else relevant to the project.
Creating a timeline with all the milestones and some check-in points is an essential activity of a scoping session. It sets the line-up for the entire project and ensures that all the ongoing work will be combined together to build the final product.
What Should be the Output of a Scoping Session?
You can expect the following outcomes after the completion of a successful scoping workshop.
- A high-level list of business requirements.
- Initial technical assumption of the project.
- Clear path and direction for the development process and for the MVP version
- User flows, prioritized user stories, and product requirements as a general backlog with epics.
- A list of defined key roles and responsibilities.
- Cost and delivery time estimate.
Things to Consider When Having a Scoping Session
Gathering business requirements is not the only purpose of a scoping session. As mentioned previously, it’s also an ideal option to commence the project with all the interested parties, allowing them to sync with the vision and the business goal.
There are various approaches to project planning based on the project type and the company. For instance, startups need to focus more on user flows, user stories, vision, and the business goal. In the meantime, other companies and enterprises should mainly focus on real user cases, existing workflows, and goals related to improving existing teams and departments.
Scoping Sessions for Startup Companies
A scoping session helps startups to decide the feasibility of a project without wasting money on many tryouts and errors. It’s also an excellent way to express and validate their ideas.
Scoping Sessions for Enterprises
Enterprises are trying to leverage the latest technology and integrate digital products into all their business areas. However, it will require long-term investments and ample resources to transform its legacy and bespoke software. Scoping workshops assist them in properly planning the budget and timeline of these projects.
All in all, scoping workshops ensure that all the project members are synchronized with a better understanding of the project scope and tasks to be done. These workshops lay a strong foundation for the entire development process and help deliver a successful software product. They also help build trust between the client, the development team, and the other business stakeholders.
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