Refine Scope, Schedule, People, and Budget as Needed
As the project develops, new information will become available. The new information may necessitate
adjustments to the project plan. In some circumstances it may be appropriate to refine the scope,
schedule, staffing, or budget. The project manager must evaluate the new information, the scale of
the issue, and the pros and cons of adjusting the plan or budget, recognizing the interrelated impact of
changing any of the major plan constraints (scope, schedule, people, and budget).
When Are Adjustments Required?
Adjustments to the plan are required when there is a significant change in the scope, schedule, or
resources, or a significant budget variance. What counts as “significant” will vary depending on the
Since a change in one of these basic components will likely necessitate a change in at least one of the
others in order to maintain a balance, one way to address this issue is to try first to make adjustments
within the individual component so that the net effect on that parameter will remain the same. For
example, if the budget runs over on one task, perhaps that run-over can be compensated for with cost
cuts in another. If one task takes too long to accomplish, the time to complete another may need to
be shortened. If it appears unlikely that the project can be pulled back on track, the project manager
must determine which adjustments are acceptable and which are not. In most projects, one or more of
these basic constraints has a higher priority. When there’s a hard deadline that must be met, such as a
deal closing date, scheduling is of the highest priority. For projects that are less mission-critical, budget
is likely to have a greater priority.
Careful attention to the regular project plan progress reports and budget variance reports and regular
communication with project team members will eliminate surprises and hopefully limit the need for
significant changes. Adjustments should always be made with the agreement of key stakeholders.
Adjustments to Scope
The project scope may be adjusted for a variety of reasons. Occasionally, it may be broadened because
of new requirements from the courts (for example, an order expanding the scope of discovery) or
clients (evolving terms of a deal). It may be broadened because the initial evaluation of the true scope
was incorrect. Depending on the nature of the project, the scope may be narrowed if the budget or
timing is running significantly over plan. Changing the scope will require assessing the other aspects of
the project – timing, staffing, and cost.
Adjustments to Schedule
Schedule adjustments may be necessary for a variety of reasons. Adjustments to schedule may be
required if preceding tasks or activities run over their expected time. If there is a hard deadline for
the project completion, these adjustments may result in a compression of the allowed time for later
tasks rather than an extension of the final project completion date. The schedule might need to be
shortened if the situation changed, for example, if a party to a deal threatened to withdraw if the
deal wasn’t closed by an earlier date than that originally projected. This would require adjusting the
schedule for the component tasks, and could require adjustments to staffing. The schedule might need
to be adjusted if the project scope changed, or if staffing changed significantly.