An important strategy to consider when undertaking a new project is to clearly identify and communicate your project definition. This usually starts by writing a problem statement, why it matters, and the goal or intended outcome. A key issue to consider as your project progresses is “Scope Creep”. Scope Creep is when outside influences affect what your project addresses and adds additional aspects to the scope and deliverable. This is a key issue that can often lead to programs never being completed, alienation of stakeholders, and never-ending projects. For the successful completion of large programs, communicate the problem, scope, and goal to stakeholders. (See Developing Team Roles & Responsibilities Post)

One tool to communicate aspects “in scope” and “out of scope” is the In Frame/ Out of Frame method. How we frame the problem will define the success and timeliness of outcomes.

framing tool - large grey rectangle with smaller rectangles nestled inside.  Each of the small rectangles contain labels of process in or out of the scope of a project

How to Use it,

As seen in the above example, there are three loations to place factors,

  • Inside the Frame: Factors in the frame are factors IN the scope of the program. Factors actively looking to influence or change through the course of solving the problem and reaching the goal.
  • Outside the Frame: Factors outside the frame are factors OUT of scope for the program. Factors identified that may affect your challenge, but you have limited or no control on how to change or influence. These will not be part of the project.
  • On the Frame: Factors on the frame may be of significance, but will not be actively worked or investigated. If actions and/or improvements identified within factors on the frame, leverage the appropriate stakeholder for executing initiatives

An effective method to build the tool, is for the team and stakeholders to identify factors and agree on placement. This activity will build agreement across the team on what this project IS and IS NOT.

Download a Free In Frame/Out of Frame Template

What if the Scope Needs Adjusting?

Just because an item is IN or OUT of frame, does not mean it must stay in this position. Factors may be adjusted from their original placement if they are identified as significant causal factors leading to the problem. However, if ANY adjustments are made to the scope of the program, the stakeholders must be in full agreement of the changes and communicate and potential changes in schedule. If the stakeholders are not on-board with the suggested change in strategy, then table the topic as a future initiative to launch or hand it over to the appropriate team to solve.

Additional Method,

And additional method to define the scope of a project is to generate a high level process map or a SIPOC process map. Once the map is complete, draw a box around the factors that are in scope as seen below,

five column chart with the letters S, I, P, O, C listed in the top of each column.  Each column represents the supplier and input into a process, and the process's output to the customer.  Under each column are details describing the process


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