Understanding Product Vision and Project Scope
Raise your hand if you thought that the Product Vision and the Project Scope were the same thing? Don’t be ashamed, I did for a very long time. It was easy for me to intertwine the two because in my experience they were presented to me that way. The Product Vision was part of the Project Scope and it was hard to dissect the vision from the scope. Early in my career when I was assigned the Business Analyst role for a project, the vision and the scope were already created by the Project Manager or an Executive Sponsor and we just ran with it. Now as I have grown into a seasoned Business Analyst I am defining these documents and asking questions. Let’s look at the differences between the two:
The BABOK v3 defines the Product Vision “as a brief statement of paragraph that describes the goals of the solution and how it supports the strategy of the organization or enterprise.”
The BABOK v3 defines Project Scope as “The work that must be performed to deliver a product, service, or result with the specified features and functions.”
You can look at it this way, The Product Vision is what we are going to do and the Project Scope is how we are going to get there.
The Product Vision is part of the overall strategy or life cycle of a product. It will last the life cycle of the product, this can be years or however long the product is relevant to the business. It should motivate and serve as reminder when making any decisions regarding the product.
The Product Vision is the purpose for developing the product but not a plan on how to achieve the goal of the product. The plan will come later in the “Project Scope”. The Project Scope or plan will help direct the scope to the Product Vision. If the Project Scope doesn’t align with the Product Vision then both need to be re-evaluated.
All stakeholders involved with a product should be involved in create the Product Vision. It is the role of the Business Analyst to facilitate the group to collaborate with all parts of the business to create the Product Vision and document it.
The Product Vision statement is created as part of an initial deliverable before the project begins. Ask yourself Why are we creating the product? What is the reasoning behind the product? What is the overall purpose of creating the product? What problem are we solving with the product? Answering these questions will drive you to your Product Vision. There are many ways to create a Product Vision statement; there are vision boards and template readily available online. These can give you a format to follow.
The main purpose of the Project Scope document is to communicate the project information. What are your deliverables, what is considered “In” or “Out” of the project, the resources and any constraints like money or time. This document will also layout the milestones, any major tasks, and any other phases to the project. The Project Scope document is quite larger than the Product Vision statement. This is going to be your detail plan of how we are going to bring the Product Vision to life.
The Business Analyst is going to facilitate meetings to create this document. Similar to the Product Vision statement all stakeholders need to be involved when the Project Scope document is being created. It is important to have all the everyone’s buy-in to ensure that the project will be a success.
While the Product Vision is pretty much set at the beginning of the project because it is what the product will become, the Project Scope is going to be a living document throughout the life cycle of the project. Things will change and grow as you try to achieve the vision of the product. It should be reviewed at every milestone and adjusted if needed at that time. The Project Scope document contains a lot of information. It is best to break it out in to categories. This way if the document needs to be updated you can easily find the section and communicate it.
Keep in mind that there can many projects to achieve the vision of one product. Therefore, you may not assist in writing a Product Vision statement initially because it may have already been established. You will though, facilitate and write many Project Scope documents during your career. I hope this little article has guided you in the differences between the Product Vision and the Project Statement. Knowing the difference and where they are applied will help you going forward.
IIBA, BABOK V3, Toronto: International Institute of business Analysis, 2015. Print