Rivo, a Sphera Company

Scoping Your EHS Software Project: the Essential First Step for Project Success


Courtesy of Rivo, a Sphera Company

You’ve probably read the horror stories in the news, or heard them from a colleague. A company undertakes an enterprise business software project with the promise of big results. But before long, it’s a complete mess. Budgets have blown and deadlines missed. People aren’t happy. How did things go so wrong?

Preventing “scope creep”

Improper scope management is a common root cause of software implementation project problems. The scope defines the project parameters – the deliverables and the boundaries of the project. Scope creep occurs when new requirements are added during the course of the project. This results in time and cost overruns, and even risks project failure.

Scope changes occur in almost all enterprise software projects. After all, situations change, and not every scenario can be anticipated. The key is to minimize this tendency early in the planning process. This is done with effective scoping, and a formal process for any scope changes.

3 tips for effective scope management

You can optimize the project scope of your EHS information management initiative by focusing on three key areas. These are best addressed by a partnership of the Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS) and Information Technology (IT) business functions.

1. Do smart requirements definition

The goal is to develop the optimum set of business requirements that can be realistically realized with the software. Early involvement of the EHS business users is important. The traditional approach is to ask users what they want. But this can lead to a “wish list” mentality that bloats the project scope, driving up cost and risk.

A more cost-effective approach is to reverse engineer the requirements from the capabilities and features of the EHS software system. The requirements can be adjusted from this baseline. Gaps can be identified and addressed in the project scope.

The next step is to go through a process of rating the importance of each requirement. This will focus the requirements based on business needs, and lead to a more efficient project.

2. Clearly define the scope, and get sign-off

The best protection against scope creep is a well-defined and documented project scope. Once the requirements are defined and prioritized, they should be incorporated into a document that defines what’s in and out of scope. It will address what applications and features of the software package will be used. Other topics addressed in the scope document include project management, training, and the scope change control process.

Next, all project stakeholders should formally sign-off on the project scope document. Although this may seem obvious, it’s a vital step that is easy to overlook. Everyone needs to know upfront what the project is, and what it isn’t. This way, there is a clear understanding of what success looks like.

3. Have a formal scope change control process

The potential need to make changes to the scope will come up in every project. A new regulation might mean a requirement needs to be modified. Unknown requirements may surface. When this happens, it’s important to have a formal change control process in place.

A typical change control process involves the requester completing a change-in-scope request document, review by the project manager, and sign-off by the project sponsor. This process should be communicated and agreed to by the entire project team at kick-off. Everyone will be aware that scope changes will require justification and executive approval.

Next steps

Failure to properly scope and manage changes to your EHS software project can cause major headaches. It can even put project success at risk. By planning for these risks from the start, you can minimize scope creep, and end up with an on-time, on-budget project that meets the needs of the business.

Rivo has helped over 180 clients be successful with enterprise EHS software systems. Our project managers and professional services staff are ready to apply their EHS and software expertise to your initiative. To find out how other companies have been successful, please visit our case studies page for more information.

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