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Resource Index > Burning Questions > Objectives, Scope, Requirements & WBS

Burning Questions on Objectives, Scope, Requirements & WBS

The development of the project plan starts from a high level definition and then is iteratively refined. The process get going with a Kick-off meeting, during which the team develops the Charter and defines the high level project objectives from the project concept and/or business case that initiated the effort. This effort is then followed by development of the Project Scope, which specifies the goals and deliverables of the project — what is being developed — and the major activities that will be performed to achieve those goals. In parallel the project and product requirements are gathered, analyzed and captured to provide the definition of the outputs of the project effort. This information feeds development of the Work Breakdown Structure, which is used to define the tasks necessary to accomplish the project objectives and deliver the outcomes. We've answered questions and situational problems from project managers like you related to these topics in an effort to help you be better prepared, or find a solution to your current situation.

Burning Questions

    Project Objectives & Scope
  1. How can I help the project better understand the problem statement?
  2. How do I find the business goals?
  3. How can I stay on track if they won't let us do requirements work?
  4. I've heard I need to define the project 'scope' – what's that and how do we define it for our project?
  5. What does a problem statement look like, and how do I find one or create one?
  6. What is a Project Charter and does it always take a specific form?
  7. What's so important about understanding the goals of the business?
    Situation Analysis
  1. How do I know if I found the right problem statement?
  2. How do I know if I've gotten to the root cause?
  3. There are so many gaps, how do I know where to start?
  4. We've identified a root cause, but it's not something we can solve. Now what?
    Stakeholder Analysis
  1. How do I help manage multiple stakeholders and their priorities on large project teams?
  2. How do I know who my stakeholders are?
  3. Why is Stakeholder Analysis important?
    Project Requirements
  1. What's important about prioritizing requirements?
  2. With all these requirements, how do I keep track of what's going on?
  3. What's so important about deciding how to get requirements approved?
  4. What is elicitation and how do I do it?
  5. Why do I need to put the requirements into categories?
  6. How does a business analyst ensure that the requirements are at the appropriate level of quality?
  7. How can I tell if we've got enough requirements defined to be successful on the project?
  8. How do requirements relate to business goals?
  9. What are different ways to define requirements? Am I supposed to be writing long documents?
  10. What are the characteristics of a good requirement?
  11. What's the best way to determine what role the various audiences have in the requirements?
  12. What's the best way to organize the requirements process?
  13. Why do I need to plan how to measure requirements?
    Work Breakdown & WBS
  1. How much detail and how many levels should my work breakdown structure go to and how do I know if I'm done?
  2. What is a Work Breakdown Structure and should I create one before scheduling my project, even if my project is small?
  3. What incentive is there for the team to go through the task of creating a WBS? It looks like a lot of work and some of them won't see why it needs their involvement.
  4. What does an Agile WBS look like?

Problem Solvers

  1. How do I get two dueling executives to agree on goals and stop delaying my project?
  2. I have a business stakeholder who insists that the new application should be "exactly like" the legacy application we're replacing. How do I get to the right set of requirements?
  3. I have two business stakeholders who have conflicting requirements. How do I figure out what's best for the organization?
  4. I thought I was supposed to get a full set of requirements from one group, but instead it seems like that group only cares about a couple of elements. How do we create a full set of requirements that will make all the customers of this project happy and show the rest of the team what to do?



Sample Burning Questions

Burning Questions are a part of our Premium Resources. Here are samples to show you what kinds of great questions we answer that no one else does. Try us free for 15 days to gain immediate access to our Burning Questions plus over 200 Project Management Templates, Guidelines and Checklists.

How to establish authority as PM with peers. I'm suddenly going to be project manager over some of my peers. How can I make sure this change in relationship gets off to a good start?
Well, to begin with it might be good to change your perspective of the project manager's role from 'over' to 'with', otherwise you could be in for a long cold winter with a forecast of frosty relationships. Keep in mind that all team members are contributing equally to the same goal, but that they each are bringing different skills and capabilities to the project. With this perspective you need to promote your role as project manager as a facilitator to help the team work toward success, like the role of the ring master at the circus where he is a minor contributor of entertainment, his role is critical to coordination of the various acts to work seamlessly together. Our template Team Roles and Responsibilities List is an excellent tool to facilitate the dialogue across your project team, allowing each member to define their role and responsibility of the project.




How to get people to stick to the agenda in meetings. I have heard that a good agenda is critical to the meeting outcomes, but how do I get meeting participants to send me agenda items and then stick to the agenda? How do I avoid adding last-minute items that derail the meeting, but may need to be addressed?
There are several ways to address the issues you bring up and the answer depends on your team culture. First, you do not want to alienate you team, but it is critical for you to establish your role as the meeting leader and how meetings will be run. This can be accomplished in many different ways. Try having a discussion with you team about the pros and cons of setting the agenda ahead of time. Go over each issue and lead a discussion on how the team wants to address each issue by establishing ground rules. If it is only a few individuals who are consistently late with their agenda items, then talk to them privately. Come to an agreement as to how late items will be handled next time and make sure you follow through if they are late.

Also, don't forget to use the meeting tracking tools to establish a rough draft agenda and send it out ahead of time. Be sure you send it out in enough time to allow for feedback.

And there is always the babysitting approach. The fact is that some people need to be walked through how to establish new behaviors. A simple phone call or email or reminder in the hall a few times may work to get them on the right track.

Once people use the agenda and see it as helping them to accomplish the work, they will participate. If they are not sticking with the agenda, then perhaps it is time to evaluate the agenda and make it more effective.





Getting action items to mean something. We're keeping track of action items but no one seems to be taking them seriously. We review them and say we'll do them, but the dates often just get changed every week. What's the POINT?
I hope you're using the editorial 'we' in this question and not participating in the behavior! Demonstration of accountability to commitments is fundamental for any leader, as why should others do when the leaders doesn't demonstrates the desired behavior. That said one has to consider if the action items unique and require action on the scale defined. If the actions are associated with issues which are impacting progress, then the delay in resolution will be reflected in a slip in project progress. The point of an action item list is that to track work which has been identified during project execution which was not previously known or planned and is necessary to complete the task. Action items need to have some degree of purpose associated with the project, otherwise it becomes just something else to do. No one likes to have additional non-value added tasks assigned - we've all got enough to do...






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