It is one of the toughest jobs – To define the project scope.

This is exactly the thing that software engineering colleges do not teach. How to define the project scope aptly in software development projects? The project scope is a directive throughout the project be it a software application development project, web development project or a product development project. The goal of software development services is to develop sophisticated business application or website for the client using the next gen technologies or the technology that the client requires.

As per TechTarget, Project scope is the part of project planning that involves determining and documenting a list of specific project goals, deliverables, tasks, costs and deadlines.

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At ISHIR, we meticulously spend time to define the scope of each of our software development projects so that we can commit a realistic timeline for the project goals. During the planning phase, we focus on understanding the requirements of the client, their business goals and how the requirement will fulfill their business vision. During the project scoping phase, we define the project goals with clear timelines against each of the goals.

During the software project planning phase, we set clear milestones and checkpoints for the project. The main idea of this activity is to account time for high priority or unplanned tasks, if there are any, during the project. We have experienced software developers who additionally try to identify the riskiest aspects of the project and prototype them or create a PoC (proof of concept), if required. For example, the use of open source technology increases the risk in any application development project. Trends show that software developers and project managers often miscalculate the time that it takes to develop a large and complicated software system. They tend to add all the features and improvements in the system in one go whereas it should be done incrementally.

What are the best practices to define project scope?

1. Create accountability for milestones

Each project goal must have a milestone that can be measured and has a certain accountability. For example, the project manager should check if the milestone is on track or not. Each estimate, be it a milestone estimate or a project estimate, is a probability of achieving the task within that time-frame.

2. Break milestones into tasks

Typically, we define tasks as something that we can complete in a day or 2. Tasks that take longer than that are not really tasks but tend to contain several sub tasks. It is easier to measure tasks and their progress rather than trying to achieve a major milestone within a day or 2.

3. Don’t underestimate

One of the best practices is to account for buffer time in the estimates. Like the time that goes in meetings, holidays and other office events. Project Managers tend to under scope which is a grave mistake as time goes in debugging, refactoring of old code and other such unexpected tasks. If you don’t account for unexpected tasks, these tend to have an impact later in the project (when it’s probably too late).
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4. Learn from the past

Historical data is the best guide to estimate and avoid overscoping or underscoping. Sometimes project managers tend to get confused as they have more resources. In such a scenario, the communication overhead or the ramp up time increases.

5. Never leave timelines to ambiguity

Most of the software engineers tend to say that the task will be completed next week or next day. Most of the projects slip due to this ambiguity. For every task that is not completed on time, the timeline must be updated even if it’s for a day. One needs to rescope to have a realistic answer to milestones and the timelines during which these will be achieved.

Bonus best practice

6. Use Agile Methodology for Software Scoping

At ISHIR, we also use the Agile Methodology for software scoping. It drives effective and productive to set the right pace for the software project. It allows careful definition of high-level requirements first and then get to the finer details. Agile methodology allows more people to be allowed in the project scope definition. When all stakeholders are involved in this critical phase, more aspects other than technology can be taken into consideration. It also sets the expectations right.

So far, we have been able to make our software projects successful with a thorough project scoping phase. Especially using the agile methodology. It enables easier and faster adoption of changes without causing unnecessary delays in the project or making the cost of the project go higher.

If you are seeking a professional custom software development outsourcing company to help you with your software or application project requirement, speak to one of our experts today for a free requirements analysis session.


  1. Ron Kathan says:

    Thanks for sharing the step by step guide

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