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What Is Project Scope Management? An Overview

Oct. 01, 2020
Global Knowledge

Project Scope Management is a defined process for completing a temporary project. It is an essential element for the function of any team, ensuring maximum efficiency, eliminating unnecessary or redundant work, and keeping a team on the same page every step of the way. Project scope will also help manage the client’s expectations and keep the project on time and on budget.


What is project management?

Project Scope Management refers to a set of processes that must be completed in order to deliver a “project,” which could be a product, service or result with specific features or functions. Scope Management focuses on “how we get there” or perhaps more accurately “what steps do we take to get there?” These steps are defined and mapped so that project managers and supervisors can determine the amount of work needed and where to focus efforts of the team in order to complete the project.

Project Scope Management should not be confused with Product Scope Management, which focuses more on the functional requirements of the product/service/result. This type of scope defines what the product is, what it will look like, and how it will function, whether it is the product as a whole or a component of the product.


Project Scope Management includes three processes:

  • Planning – The project is defined and the work (or processes) needed to deliver the project is determined.
  • Controlling – This involves tracking, managing and monitoring the progress of a project, including tracking documentation, scope creep, tracking the work during each phase, and disapproving/approving any changes along the way.
  • Closing – This is the “wrap up” part of the process, which involves an audit of the project deliverables and accessing the results of the final product against the original defined plan.


Here is an example of a Project Scope Management plan:

Source: MindGenius

You can also format your Project Scope Management plans as guides. Additional examples can be found here.


Determine your project scope statement

The scope statement is where you will identify the work that needs to be done in order to complete the project. It defines your objectives and directs the processes for completing the project. You may also see the scope statement referred to as “the statement of work” or “term of reference.”

Having a clear scope statement will ensure that everyone knows what to expect, that each required step is taken, and that the project is successfully completed on time and on budget.

The scope statement should include a list of everything needed to create the framework for the project including: project goals, deliverables, features, functions, tasks, deadlines, and costs.

The project manager, working together with the team leaders and stakeholders, should develop the scope statement, ensuring the following:

  • It includes only the work (scope) required;
  • Each step of the project can be completed on time, and
  • That the project can be completed within the allotted budget.


The scope statement should include:

  1. The boundaries of the project (what is and what is not included)
  2. The responsibilities of each team and the individual team members
  3. The procedures for completing each step of the project
  4. How each step will be verified and approved


Why the project scope statement is essential

You wouldn’t go on a long road trip without a map. The project scope statement is like a map used to get from start to finish. Without this statement, team members cannot be clear on what they are supposed to do and when. You are also more likely to miss deadlines, make mistakes and run over budget.

The scope statement also becomes part of your essential documentation, proving that all parties were informed and signed off on the project before any work began. You need such a statement to protect your interests in the event of disputes with the client, contractors, sub-contractors or workers.


Here is an example of a project scope statement:


Additional Project Scope Statement examples can be found here.

Project management steps

Project scope management requires a number of steps to ensure the correct processes are put in place. In general, there are 6 steps, which can be applied to nearly any industry or type of project, whether it’s a new product, computer network system, computer software/hardware, engineering project, construction project, or a new department within an organization.


1. Plan Scope Management

This first step involves planning the process and creating a scope management plan. The goal of this step is to determine how the scope will be defined, managed, verified and controlled.

There are 4 primary parts of the scope management plan:

  • Requirements
  • Scope Statement
  • Work Breakdown Schedule
  • WBS (work breakdown structure) Dictionary


2. Collect Requirements

This second step will establish what needs to be accomplished during the project. You will need to collect the requirements of all the stakeholders, which may include the client, senior management, investors, government regulators, neighbors or nearby landowners. You will determine the project timeline, allocation of resources, and set the goals of the project.

There are 5 categories of project requirements:

  • Business requirements
  • Stakeholder requirements
  • Product requirements
  • Transition requirements
  • Quality requirements


3. Define Scope

This step involves determining the scope of the work that will be involved in order to deliver the project. It should outline the steps that will be taken in order to meet the project’s goals and objectives.

Define the project scope by identifying:

  • Project objectives
  • Goals
  • Sub-phases
  • Tasks
  • Resources
  • Budget
  • Schedule


In this phase you will also establish the parameters of the project. In other words, you must define exactly what is included in the project and what is not. This ensures that the client, stakeholders, senior management, project manager, and team members are all aware of what is expected.


4. Create WBS

The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) involves subdividing the project deliverables into smaller units. Basically, you break down the project into phases, including the tasks required in order to complete each phase.

If you were building a house, the WBS phases might include:

  • Design – Creating plans/blueprints and making changes to the plans
  • Structural – Excavation, pouring foundation, framing, drywalling and roof joists
  • Utilities – Plumbing, electrical and HVAC
  • Finishing – Painting, windows, roofing, siding and landscaping


A WBS Example:

Source: Lucidchart

5. Validate Scope

This step has to do with formalizing the acceptance of deliverables. This phase is not concerned with the deliverables themselves, but how they will be accepted and approved. The point of this phase is to avoid stakeholders deciding that things should have been done differently after the project has been completed.

Validate Scope should include:

  • Whether the project deliverables are accepted?
  • Who accepts project deliverables?
  • Under what conditions deliverables will be accepted?


6. Control Scope

This refers to the process of monitoring progress and managing changes that come up during the project. It monitors “scope creep,” which happens when additional tasks are added/changed, without making the necessary changes to the scope in terms of schedule, costs and resources. This is an essential part of the process as changes can result in lost time, cost overruns, and will require the reallocation of assets and manpower.

10 Tips For Successful Project Planning and Management

Planning any project requires sound project scope management. You must have a clear plan so that all parties involved know what to expect and what their roles will be.

Here are 10 final tips to have successful project scope management:

  1. Understand the project – You must identify and understand the interests, needs, and goals of the client and have a firm grasp on the objectives of the project.
  2. Identify the project requirements – In order to know what resources are needed, you must identify the requirements to complete the project. You will then need to assemble a team, define roles and allocate tasks.
  3. Hire a qualified project manager – The best plan in the world will fall apart if you do not have the right project manager. They should be adept at managing a team, with a clear understanding of how to allocate tasks based on the skills and personalities of each person.
  4. Define milestones – In order to complete a project, you must define key phases of a project or milestone. You must also define how to evaluate and approve each phase/milestone.
  5. Maintain communications – You must be able to communicate with the stakeholders, the project manager, supervisors, contractors, and team members to discuss issues and changes so that everyone remains on the same page.
  6. Identify team members’ strengths and weaknesses – Being aware of the strengths and weaknesses of team members will make the team more efficient so you can meet the project requirements.
  7. Take advantage of management tools – There are many resources in online project management software. These tools can be a centralized platform to track, manage, share, and communicate with everyone involved in the project.
  8. Practice risk management – Managing potential risks is essential in order to identify potential threats, and avoid mistakes and cost overruns that could derail a project.
  9. Test deliverables – In order to deliver a project successfully, you need to develop tests at critical milestones. This will ensure the requirements of each step have been met.
  10. Evaluation of the project – After a project is complete, the project manager should review and evaluate the various components of the project and the project as a whole. The objective is to identify successes as well as areas where improvements can be made to prevent mistakes on future projects.


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