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What is a Project Scope and Why is it Important?

A team of software developers discuss a project scope

What is a Project Scope and Why is it Important?

You’ve spent countless hours designing your business from top-to-bottom, and now it’s time to take it online. Congratulations! That’s a major feat . . . And one only the most determined entrepreneurs accomplish. 

Now you need to hire a team of website developers to build out your online presence. And you want to make sure you’ve got the crème-de-la-crème working in your corner . . . A brilliant team that’ll take your vision and turn it into a fully-functioning reality. 

But here’s the million-dollar question . . .  

How do you determine a fair price point? With so many moving pieces to a software or web development project, it can be a real challenge to get started on the right foot. 

That’s where a scope comes in – a crucial step for ensuring a cost-effective and efficient journey to completion. 

When you complete a scope, you’re essentially building out a complete list of your project’s primary objectives, features, and functions. And this list is the key to determining who should work on it, how long it will take . . . And just as importantly, what it will cost. 

Let’s dig into everything you need to know about creating a scope of work.

A Scope of Work: Your Blueprint to Success 

Imagine asking a contractor to build you a skyscraper without providing them with a blueprint or a set of deliverables. Sounds like a surefire way to end up with a tumbling pile of rubble, doesn’t it? 

That’s exactly the same challenge that web developers face when clients neglect to provide them with a scope of work. 

By detailing the project from the outset, you ensure communication, budget, and priorities are on track. Here are some of the main benefits of a scope:

  • Your Communication Savior: Our brains can be home to the most brilliant ideas . . . But if we can’t effectively communicate with them, a project is bound to fall flat. Your scope is the key that unlocks your ideas and brings them into existence.  
  • A Scope Defines Priorities: The last thing you want is a completed project that focuses on a random design element, with no attention paid to the functionality of your most critical features. Your scope will help a developer prioritize what’s most important to you, so you both stay on the same page throughout the process.
  • Your Crucial Money-Saving Document: What’s more, a scope encourages a strict budget from the get-go. The clearer you can get on the steps involved in your project, the easier it will be for a developer to define, and stay within the price points for each.

Simply put, a scope allows your developers to understand exactly what your project entails, and to prioritize the details for optimal efficiency. 

A Full Scope Means a Fixed Rate 

One of the best things you can do to keep your project on track is to hand your developers a full scope before they head off to the races. 

That way, you’ll increase the chances of staying with a fixed rate. And remember, every time you make a change, your development team has to financially account for them. 

Keep the following points in mind as you create your scope: 

  • There’s Danger in Swerving Off the Path: Changes in scope can lead to changes in technology stacks. These tech stacks are the fundamental building blocks of your online project. And when a developer needs to change them midway through their work, it can be like pulling out a whole new set of puzzle pieces and starting from scratch. Of course, it’s a headache for them . . . But for you, it can mean spiking costs and sacrificing functionality. 
  • Last-Minute Changes Mean Serious Delays: If getting your project done on time is important to you, then you’ll want to avoid making changes late in the game at all costs. If you’ve got a clearly defined scope from the outset, you’ll rarely have this problem. However, if you do run into it, it could kill your project before it ever gets off the ground. 
  • Beware the Developer Who Settles for Less: Is a developer who charges less than the market price too good to be true? The answer’s almost always a resounding, YES. A developer that names a low starting price is more likely to bake in additional costs as the project goes on. 
  • Clear Language is Key to Success: Developers live across the globe, and many of them speak different languages. So the clearer you can be about what you need to accomplish, the easier it will for a project manager to match your deliverables up with the right team. Moreover, a well-established scope will guide developers to choose the optimal technology and infrastructure for your project.

Will Any Developers Work Without a Scope?

The reality is, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a solid developer who’s willing to work without a scope. 

Think back to the worst job you ever had. You know, the one where your boss wanted you to solve the company’s biggest problems . . . Without telling you what they were or how to achieve the goal.  

We’ve all dealt with the frustrations of those vague, time-consuming projects that paralyze us from the start. And experienced developers will avoid that kind of work as much as humanly possible.

In fact, the best developers are the straightforward ones . . . The experts who don’t want to waste either your time or theirs. If they know exactly what you’re looking for, they might also acknowledge they’re not the right person for the job.

And don’t forget . . . A developer is interviewing you too. In today’s day and age, there’s not a huge lack of online businesses requiring their services. So they’re going to go through the details of your project with a fine-toothed comb, and size up your ability to communicate your vision from the outset. 

Get it wrong, and you could end up shopping around for a professional for a long time. Get it right, and you’re in for a productive relationship that fulfills the dreams you’ve got for your business. 

Clear Expectations Create Client Satisfaction 

Finally, the set of deliverables in a scope will let you know exactly when your project will be complete. And clear expectations almost always yield a more satisfying result. By writing out deliverables, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting . . . And when you’re getting it.

Imagine going to a restaurant and forgetting to tell the waiter you prefer your meat cooked medium-well. After sitting in restless anticipation, you’d feel your heart sink when a bloody steak arrives at your table. 

The same logic applies to your web development project. 

The more granular you get about your expectations, the more confident your developer will be in their ability to carry out your vision with 100 percent accuracy. 

As you can see, scoping out your project before handing it off to a developer is crucial for its success. While it takes a little bit of extra effort and money to build a detailed blueprint, it will save you from unexpected costs – and a boatload of frustration – down the road. 

Are you ready to take your business online but not sure where to start? Schedule a free consultation with our team and let’s get you moving in the right direction. 

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