Software Development needs a Customer Advocate

I am often asked (what is) the difference between a Certified Scope Manager (CSM) and a  ___ (fill in the blank: business analyst;  project manager; quality assurance specialist; project analyst, etc) – and the answer is threefold.

A scope manager is different from all the other traditional software development project team members in the following ways:

1. The scope manager is usually hired by the Customer or Acquisition side of software development, and is a customer advocate. As such, the scope manager is independent of the project team.

2. The scope manager does not take part in the software development except to report back to the customer on project progress and evaluate the impact of scope changes on the project.

3. The scope manager is an octupus in terms of knowledge because their expertise spans multiple disciplines:  facilitation and negotiation; ICT program management;  software metrics & estimation; business analysis; project management; northernSCOPE(TM); benchmarking (knowledge databases); change management.

A project scope manager works part-time on a project and bridges the gap between the customer and the software development team – and often is involved in multiple projects at one time.  While s/he is a customer advocate who ensures that the client requirements are defined before the development RFPs (requests for proposal) are issued, the involvement of the customer is tantamount in the entire process of scope management.  One of the biggest gains from concrete scope management is that software development is contracted for on a cost per function point basis and therefore both parties to the work benefit:

  • The customer pays for all software development that they request and receive; and
  • The supplier is paid for all the work that they perform at the customer’s direction.

This means that the customer always has the flexibility to make changes during the software development life cycle (SDLC) and pays for such change at the negotiated unit price.  The supplier gets paid for the work they do (and partial work done prior to changes being made) at the negotiated unit price.

One of the biggest advantages in the scope management approach is that a “project” is subdivided into sub-projects (each separately managed work product is a separate sub-project according to specified northernSCOPE(TM) rules) and priced according to competitive and historical rates of delivery. This means that web platform development is priced at a different price than mainframe development – akin to building construction being priced differently depending on the type of construction.

All in all, scope management is a straightforward means to solve customer abdication on software development projects and rewards the software supplier with payment for the work they do at the customer’s request.  Both sides win, the supplier works on the requirements that the customer needs for their business, and flexibility for ongoing change is built into the process.  Finally software development has the customer advocate they need – and both sides win!

Why not attend Certified Scope Manager (CSM) training in Tampa April 26-30, 2010?  Join us and register at

To your successful projects!


Carol Dekkers


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Comments (2)

  1. Actually the Scope Manager, as you describe it, in many ways sounds like the role of the Product Owner role advocated in Scrum or the customer (representative) as viewed by Agile methods in general. It seems, though, that the Agile view has this role be highly engaged with development teams for guidance and feedback which may be more than your second role comparison point suggests.

    • Scott,

      You are correct on both counts: an agile product owner is committed full-time to the project and an integral part of it, while a scope manager is most heavily involved at the beginning of the development (having baselined the requirements), and is independent of the project team. Secondly, the scope manager requires some of the skills of the product owner (portrayed by business analysts and customers in traditional development) but also knowledge in a number of other areas.

      A product owner is a specialist in their business area for a particular project, a scope manager is a specialist in northernSCOPE(TM) covering project scoping, planning, baselining, progress reporting and change management.

      Thanks for reading and for your comment!

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