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The importance of proper scoping

Jonathan Pelzar, Oluwadara Alaba

In the pursuit of moving fast and breaking things, the first casualty is often the most crucial step on any project roadmap. Without it we’ll find ourselves retreading old ground, putting out endless fires, and at the end of the day having a difficult time measuring our results.

What is proper scoping?

To an excited team of designers and developers, an exhaustive scoping session can feel like a real wet blanket. Often it will feel as though the product is already taking shape in the minds of those tasked with creating it, and good management would be to simply step aside and let them build. The reasons to blow past the scoping process will be familiar to anyone who’s seen a promising engagement go off the rails. There will be talk of approaching deadlines, ambiguous goals, and certainly no mention of what success will ultimately look like.
Despite all that though, proper scoping is essential for the success of any project. It involves defining the boundaries, deliverables, and objectives of a project in a clear and concise manner. This process is crucial because it sets the foundation for the entire project and influences its timeline, budget, and overall success.

1. Clarity and Focus

Proper scoping ensures that everyone involved in the project understands what needs to be done and what the project aims to achieve. This clarity and focus help in aligning the efforts of the project team towards common goals, reducing ambiguity, and minimizing the risk of scope creep.

2. Resource Allocation

Clear scoping helps in identifying the resources required for the project. It allows project managers to allocate the right people, budget, and time to the project, which in turn increases the efficiency and productivity of the team.

3. Risk Management

By defining the scope of the project, potential risks and constraints can be identified early on. This enables project managers to develop risk mitigation strategies and contingency plans, thereby reducing the impact of unforeseen events on the project's progress.

4. Stakeholder Engagement

Proper scoping facilitates effective communication with stakeholders. It helps in managing their expectations, gaining their buy-in, and ensuring that the project meets their requirements, thereby fostering a positive relationship with stakeholders.

5. Time Management

A well-scoped project provides a clear timeline for deliverables and milestones. This facilitates better time management and scheduling, allowing the project team to meet deadlines and deliver quality work within the stipulated time frame.

6. Quality Deliverables

Proper scoping ensures that the project team focuses on delivering quality outcomes that align with the project scope. It prevents the inclusion of unnecessary features or functionalities, thereby promoting the delivery of high-quality, fit-for-purpose deliverables.

As applied to data engineering

Regarding Data Engineer or Engineering in general, proper scoping exercise/Inception provides a complete understanding of the existing systems and challenges. For an Engagement which requires Data Transformations (ETL), understanding the shareholders business requirements, technology stack, data pipeline and Architecture, are some areas a scoping exercise aim to understand.

Scoping your Engagement in the planning phase provides significant advancements and advantages. The biggest advantage is, as the big data expert defining the scope has an in-depth knowledge of the problem or has implement the data solution before and has good idea of all the snag or blockers the project can face.

The Early involvement of a Data Engineer Expert in the project provides more effective and tailored roadmap which is easy to build and provide an accurate project timeline to the shareholder/client. The scoping exercise helps to eradicate failure in terms of the functionality of the systems or timeline. Performing early analysis helps to plan different phases of the Engineering roadmap, Plans can be incorporated into the project contract to significantly reduce risk of issues or cost.

Further reading

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