One of the most important aspects of a digital project is to face the challenge of properly scoping a project. How a digital producer methodologically describes a project will determine its requirements, how it will be systematically developed and how its dependencies gets integrated to its core.
And we’re not even talking about the entire lot here such as risk management and creating business cases.
There are several methods that the industry uses in scoping a digital project or a web/software development effort. The oldest is the famous waterfall method and now we have Agile, Scrum, Test-Driven Development and the likes. For a non-technical digital producer or for those who are new comers in digital production, understanding the methodologies is already a challenge since all of them are good tools to describe a project. Knowing what to use is another story.
Why Is It Important To Scope a Project?
I’ve seen a lot of stubbornness where documentation is done after a project has been deployed and it’s amazing that it got to a stage where it was deployed.
Everybody on the same page – It is important that everybody on the team is on the same page in every step of the project and this includes the client. Most of the time, especially with big teams, a project goes to a spiral dive because everybody decided to do things on their own.
Requirement Signoff – From my experience, this habit of doing a signoff became deeply embedded in my system. Being on the same page is different from having an agreement with every team member on how the project will progress especially on the client’s side. Pointing fingers will be minimized if you have this signoff and it makes everyone accountable to every decisions that is being made.
Documentation – It will be easy for future project members to take over a project if it is properly documented. Even for developers, it gives them a guide on how to understand requirements, business rules and other types of requirement. If you have good documentation, it will make your life easier to do turn overs or adding another phase to the project.
Cutting Off the Technical Drama
The Almighty Wish List – I love wish lists. They are short and simple. If the client’s way of describing their requirement starts contradicting other requirements or is overlapping, suggests the almighty wish list. How does it work? Several one sentence items create a wish list. It will be easier to understand what your client wants.
Describe The Wish List – Your job as a digital producer is to expound the wish list on how you understood your client. These are top-level descriptions on each item. Present this to the client and make sure that both of you are on the same page.
Divide and Conquer – Depending on the client’s budget and timeline, a project may not get everything on the wish list. Sit down with your client to prioritize items that can be delivered on their time table and budget. Better yet, divide the project into phases so that it will be easier to monitor and deliver.
Finalize the Specifications – Draft the first version of your functional specifications, distribute it to team members and client and make sure you do a signoff. This entire document contains every element and requirement for you to deliver a digital project. Describing these elements will be a separate post.
As digital producers, it is also our job to control the flow of information from account managers, creatives, developers and 3rd party suppliers. Without any sort of decent documentation, it will be near impossible to deliver a digital project on time and within budget.
I have followed several methodologies in the past and created a simple version of my own, took out the complicated and redundant parts and made it part of my project management workflow. If you’re not yet practising this, make it a habit until it becomes part of your workflow. It protects not only your team but also the client. Hope this helps you in the future.