One afternoon, I decided to make brownies. I hadn’t done any baking in a while, but I had made these before and had a pretty good idea of what needed to be done. I pulled the sugar down from the cabinet and added it to my mixer. Then, I pulled the butter from the fridge and added that, to start creaming those ingredients together. I should have set the butter out ahead of time so it would be soft, but this would be okay – it would just take a little longer to mix up. I needed eggs next, so I went to the fridge and…I had no eggs. After a quick trip to the store, I added the eggs to the now-smooth sugar and butter mixture. Now for the dry ingredients. Flour, salt, baking powder…cocoa powder?! I didn’t have any cocoa powder, either! So, back to the store. When I finally got home with the cocoa, I added my dry ingredients to the batter and reached for the vanilla extract – which I was also out of. At this point, I decided to just pass on that and waited for the oven to pre-heat (because of course I didn’t turn that on ahead of time). Finally, three hours after I started, I had some of the most mediocre brownies I had ever made.
Trying to start a project without a complete scope of work is a lot like this disastrous cooking experience. What should be expected tasks (e.g., “I need cocoa powder”) become last-minute scrambles to gather your resources and get everything done on time. It may take a little longer at the start to carefully define the scope of your project, but pre-loading your tasks prevents slippage in the long run.
Projects are often started with a poorly defined scope, with the idea that they needed to get started right away, and that the details would get worked out “later.” In reality, even though projects planned this way do get started right away, they end up finishing rather late. It’s impossible to build an accurate project schedule without knowing the complete scope of work – whether that’s equipment to be qualified, documents to be written, or ingredients to be added to a bowl.
Written By: Taylor Fitzpatrick, Consultant II