How To Keep Development Scope From Growing Wild

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A big problem with a garden is that it doesn’t stop growing. And so does the scope of a software development project.

A lot of effort is invested by gardeners in fighting the growing garden. They are constantly weeding, pruning, and trimming to control how the garden looks and to make sure it best serves its purpose.

How much are you investing in weeding your scope?

There you are, walking along the paths of your software development garden, listening, and looking for things that shouldn’t be there.

Suddenly you notice something odd. There is a lot of commotion around a new screen. You see it has spectacular features. You don’t remember asking for it to be so prominent – users rarely go there. You raise your machete and – Slash! Trim it to its right size.

You are in a design review. You notice the level of detail for this stage is much above what is required. A waste! Hack! You stop the discussion.

As you practice it becomes easier:

  • Swoosh! Why are we investing time in these validations? What is the chance of getting the such message?
  • Crack! Why are we fixing this defect? It is not important now and as a matter of fact, I don’t see when will it be important. (you have to be very creative with the sound you make to make the right impression).
  • Smack! We are investing too much in this framework. Let’s build only what we need now.
  • Ploing! Entering a string here is good enough. No need for the fancy widget now. (you get into the rhythm and start a dance).
  • Zeeeeng! Remember, our goal is to get feedback on the concept at this stage. Don’t mess with this end case.
  • Bloop! You just stepped into something left here by the legacy system…

The only way for a software project to be on time and meet the desired outcome is to constantly prune and trim the ever growing scope. This need to be done by everyone: from the product manager who sees the garden from above and identifies unwanted patterns in the growth, through the product owner who sees things from a close distance, to the developer who is there when little defects only germinate and new unnecessary but fascinating ideas sprout.

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