Discovery – Why Scoping should always be a pre-sales exercise

Incorporating the scoping elements of a project into the pre-sales responsibilities increases the chances of project success and provides a project with the grounding it needs from the start.

Scoping has traditionally been an exercise carried out by a customer upon the identification of a need for some additional software.  The client will then undergo a lengthy period trying to understand all the necessary elements that need to be brought into the project scope and identify the pieces that need to be brought together in order to produce a successful outcome for all stakeholders.

Unfortunately this approach often leads to problems.  The basic reason for this is that the client just doesn’t understand all the intricacies involved in implementing the systems required for the project.  This is not a criticism of the client, they are not meant to know all the ins and outs of implementing a transaction or accounting system, they are responsible for a lot more besides and will typically only implement one of each system during their time with the company.

However, as well meaning as the client may be their lack of knowledge does impact the project and leads to problems down the line – not all questions are asked, the amount of work is then under-estimated and from there timelines and cost increase ultimately leading to project failure.

This can be avoided though.

Incorporating the scoping exercise into the Sales process as part of the pre-sales objectives provides significant advantages over the traditional scoping methodology both from a project, company and vendor perspective.

  • Scope defined by solution expert: The biggest advantage is having the scope defined by an expert in the application area.  If the person defining the scope has implemented the solutions many times over they will be aware of all the pitfalls or problems a project can face.  As a result pertinent questions are asked and issues uncovered that may have been missed by someone less experienced in the process.  Consequently any hidden deliverables/problems are exposed up front rather than 3 months into the project.
  • Scope Defined and agreed: When performed as part of the pre-sales operation the scope presented to implementation resource is defined, agreed and documented removing any complications around the work required.  The project team both in the client and the vendor know what needs to be achieved and how it will be done breaking down barriers of communication and removing any potential confusion.
  • Accurate Costs Established: As a vendor involves themselves in the scoping they can much more accurately assess the cost impact of a project allowing for the provision of much more accurate costs for the solution implementation.  Accurate costs can then be fed back into budgets and proposals without the risk of large Statements of Work lurking round the corner.
  • Established Implementation Plan: Through the involvement of the vendor early in the process a more effective and tailored plan can quickly and easily be built for the implementation of the solution.  Having been involved in the entire process the vendor will be able to propose a phasing and implementation plan that will see the client receive a quick ROI coupled with an accurate timeline.

There are many more benefits that come from a pre-sales scoping phase but those listed above mean that the project is much less likely to fail in terms of either Functionality, Cost or Timeframe.  The impact of having an expert involved with the initial scoping and analysis of a project cannot be underestimated.  Similarly, by bringing the analysis forward before the contract has been signed costs and plans can be incorporated into the contract and the risk of issues or additional cost occurring later is significantly reduced.

By incorporating a pre-sales scoping exercise you set your project up to succeed, the real question is not why it should always be part of the pre-sales exercise but why it hasn’t been thus far.