Manage the Scope of a Data-Mining Project

By Meta S. Brown

It’s not just your own interests that can cause a project’s scope to expand. As you work, you’ll have discussions with coworkers, and they’ll all have ideas and questions to inspire more exploration.

Asking questions and exploring data can be fun. Now that you are a data miner, you’ll find that you can ask and answer questions that were previously beyond your reach. Finding answers is motivating. You’ll think of yet more questions. Perhaps you’ll discover something so cool that you’ll want to tell everyone about it.

It’s all so exciting that it can easily get out of hand!

You’ll find no limit to the sources of inspiration available to the data miner. But a limit exists to your available time.

As you work, you must have specific goals in mind as well as a realistic plan for meeting them. The goals must be defined in business terms that suit your manager’s or client’s needs. Your plan is your assurance that you will produce something of value, not just something that you find interesting. Your plan is your guide for deciding which questions to address now and which questions must be set aside for later.

So focus on specific goals, refer to your plan, and don’t let your project’s scope expand or wander before you complete your goals.

What if you’ve completed your project goals and still have time before your deadline? Fantastic! Now you have the opportunity to investigate one or more of the best new questions that have come to mind, and add a valuable extra to your final presentation.