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Scaling Down

Reducing Project Scope

Organizations have various reasons for reducing the project duration or changing the project scope. In our new technological age, there is often pressure to be first-to-market to capitalize on the new opportunity. Time-to-market pressures often call for project duration reductions to secure the first-to-market status. Corporations may also experience unforeseen delays during project execution. These delays may include unexpected weather delays, equipment breakdown, and design flaws. Other reasons for reducing project duration may include imposed deadlines and contract commitments, overhead and public goodwill costs, pressure to move resources to other projects, and incentive contracts that encourage early completion times. Regardless of the reason, project reductions allow managers to get back on schedule to fulfill the obligations of the project, however, sometimes tough decisions are made to scale back the project and reduce the project scope to get project deliverables done.

Advantages of Reducing Project Scope

Cost Savings

Scaling down the project scope contributes direct benefits to the overall project. First, reducing the project scope allows the firm to save lots of money in project costs potentially. The money previously allocated for the costs of the project may be redistributed to needed parts of the company or used to reduce the overall costs of the project to ensure that the project finishes on the budget. For example, a company decides that it needs to build a specialized update for a computer software program while including new features into the software design. Once the project begins, the developers discover that if all of the new features are included in the new software update, the company may expend more costs on people resources and testing to ensure the quality of the expected finished product. Therefore, the firm may decide to reduce the project scope and only include the most crucial features needed for the software update to meet project cost restrictions.

Time Savings

Another advantage of reducing project scope surfaces as time savings. When project work details are scaled back, it also alleviates heavy time constraints placed on the project duration. Reducing the project scope may create slack for other project deliverables and ensure that sufficient time is granted for all work processes. Therefore, reducing project scope can ultimately reduce anxieties concerning meeting completion deadlines to ensure project success.

Disadvantages of Reducing Project Scope

Decreased Functionality

While there are advantages to reducing the project scope, there are also disadvantages explicated as well. First, reducing the project scope may also cause reductions in the overall functionality of the product (Larson & Gray, 2014, p. 311). As stated earlier in the example of the software design project, if the firm decides to reduce the project scope by excluding additional features of the software, the software package will no longer have the pre-planned functionality as first intended. By directly eliminating certain functions of the software in this project, the firm may have to create another project to create a software program with the omitted features. Wang & Ko (2012) report that when project scope changes the overall strategy and goals of the project also change creating more pressure on the managerial personnel to successfully implement the project while controlling for better understanding and regulation of project progress. In the end, this may result in more costs of time and resources oppose to increasing product duration and using the current people resources currently in place for effective project completion.

Compromised Quality

Another disadvantage of decreasing project scope is that it also reduces the overall quality of the project. Reducing the project scope may cause deviations from the original design, but may also compromise customer needs. For example, construction managers building out a subdivision may find that material for a particular floor design has changed and increased in price. The project manager may contact the project owner's representative in such cases and decide to alter this floor feature for under-performing material. Nahod (2012) report that investor requirements impact other deliverables of the project and 83% of the time results in changes in project scope. The single decision to scale back flooring design and costs may compromise the flooring quality of the entire house which may also lead to the unwanted buyer's perception of overall house quality and worth.

Ways to Reduce Disadvantages

The project manager should effectively do the necessary pre-planning to control for project risks and ensure that time and cost of resources are allocated appropriately to decrease the disadvantages associated with reducing the project scope. During this pre-planning stage, the project manager may conduct risk-response matrices to create action plans in the event of deviations from the original project plans. Atkinson et al. (2006) report that project managers should treat the definition of objectives as an essential part of managing projects, clarify and manage desired trade-offs between multiple performance objectives, and assign ownership of associated uncertainty issues to increase the functionality and respond to overall project risks. Therefore, by providing contingencies assigning responsibilities prematurely in the event of project hiccups allows firms to use the necessary people and money resources to carry out the project on time and in budget effectively.

Biblical Integration

Reducing the project scope allows project managers to get back on track with the schedule. Although there may be disadvantages to reducing project scope, making such wise and cautious decisions may ultimately determine the success of the project. Proverbs 14: 16 (NLT) supports this premise as it states "The wise are cautious and avoid danger; fools plunge ahead with reckless confidence.


Atkinson, R., Lynn, C., & Ward, S. (2006). Fundamental uncertainties in projects and the scope

of project management. International Journal of Project Management, 26(8), 687-698. Retrieved from

Larson, E.W., & Gray, C.F. (2014). Project management: The managerial process (6th ed.).

New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Nahod, M. (2012). Scope control through managing changes in construction projects.

Tyndale House Publishers (2007). New Living Translation Version. Wheaton, Ill: Tyndale House


Wang, W., & Ho, N. (2012). Knowledge sharing practices of project teams when encountering

changes in project scope: A contingency approach. Journal of Information Science, 38(5), 423-431. Retrieved from

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