Jamal's Musings – The Role of Psychology in Project Scope Management


Another field that is utilizing the latest developments in psychology is - surprising to many people - e-commerce. We all shop on the Internet for books, clothing, tools and electronics but very rarely do we realize how the site designers manage to manipulate and direct us using subtle but very powerful psychological tricks. Here are some of them:


  • "Buy" and "Add To Cart" buttons - ever noticed how large and colorful they are? Do you really think it is just a design quirk of the user interface specialist? And yet it has been proven that color, size and even irregular shape have a proven, measurable impact on products added to cart, checkout initiation and checkout completion.


  • Free Shipping vs. Savings - do you think that $10 in money saved is always better than $6.99? The conventional answer to that question is "yes", but a professor from Wharton School of Business found that consumers preferred free shipping worth $6.99 in savings over a $10 discount on the product. And smart e-commerce retailers take full advantage of this irrational behavior.


  • Lump Sum vs. Distributed Payments - by the same token, when offered to buy a warranty for additional $15, most of the customers declined that offer. But guess what they did when they were offered to pay $2 per month for the next 12 months for the same warranty?


  • Usage of "Will" - the e-commerce psychologists argue that the following statement "Shampoo X will calm itching and will reduce redness" is much inferior to "Shampoo X calms itching and reduces redness". Some peculiar processes in our brains forces us to believe the second type of statement way more than the first one.


As was mentioned earlier, this technique could probably be quite useful in software and product development, although it is possible to employ it on certain multidisciplinary projects as well.


About the Author

Jamal Moustafaev, MBA, PMP – president and founder of Thinktank Consulting is an internationally acclaimed expert and speaker in the areas of project/portfolio management, scope definition, process improvement and corporate training. Jamal Moustafaev has done work for private-sector companies and government organizations in Canada, US, Asia, Europe and Middle East.  Read Jamal’s Blog @ www.thinktankconsulting.ca

Jamal is an author of two very popular books: Delivering Exceptional Project Results: A Practical Guide to Project Selection, Scoping, Estimation and Management and Project Scope Management: A Practical Guide to Requirements for Engineering, Product, Construction, IT and Enterprise Projects.