When a new project begins, the project manager needs to answer several questions, such as:
- What is the objective of this project?
- What are its deliverables?
- What resources are required?
- Which elements are not necessary?
Without a clear understanding of the project’s goals, resources will flounder and work won’t progress.
Project managers can streamline the project planning process by first defining the project’s scope. Once the project scope is determined, it can act as a cornerstone in project management and planning. Scoping the project effectively helps manage stakeholder expectations and produce deliverables efficiently without overburdening the resource team.
What Is Project Scope?
Project scope is an integral part of the project planning process that helps stakeholders and project managers understand the prerequisites to complete the project. The project scope defines all aspects of the project, including budget, goals, deadlines, and deliverables. It demarcates clear boundaries for what is part of the project and what is not. The scope of the project should be aligned with client requirements so that the project manager and clients remain on the same page.
Benefits of Defining a Project’s Scope
The project scope definition helps envision the entire life cycle of the project, keeps the project within its defined boundaries, and ensures that its goals are achieved within the specified time. Here are some other compelling benefits of defining project scope:
- It can act as a bridge between the project manager and the project stakeholders. With the full scope defined, these stakeholders share a meeting point, which can prevent and mitigate conflict.
- It can guide the project manager as they monitor activities, assign tasks, and allot resources.
- It can reduce the risk of conflict, scope creep, and ambiguity.
- It helps the team zero in on the primary objective of the project.
What Is a Project Scope Statement?
A project scope statement is merely the documentation of the project scope. The scope statement spells out the motive of the project and its key goals to the stakeholders or clients. It provides a clear, holistic overview of the goals, deliverables, budget, prerequisites, tasks, schedule, team members, and deadlines of the project to the stakeholders.
The scope statement acts as a guideline for the project manager and the stakeholders to ensure the project does not derail from its track. Having a well-organized project scope statement helps the project manager make the right decisions and take suitable actions throughout the project’s life cycle.
Writing a Project Scope Statement
As mentioned previously, the project scope statement is a document defining all elements of the project. It cements an agreement between the project manager and the stakeholders. Writing a clear and concise scope statement helps to easily gain approval from the stakeholders.
Some of the things to keep in mind while writing the scope statement are:
- The scope should be specific and to the point. The more specific the statement is, the better it is.
- It should include both qualitative and quantitative explanations that should be used to help stakeholders achieve a comprehensive understanding of the project.
- It should be relevant and goal-oriented. Avoid writing content that does not add value to the project and makes the scope unnecessarily lengthy.
- It should include a project deadline, so clients know approximately when to expect deliverables.
- There is no strict limit to the length of the scope statement, as long as it offers meaningful information.
The Project Scope Statement Includes the Following Elements
Project Scope – The project scope outlines the goals and tasks of the project and describes who will be involved in the project.
Constraints – Be it procurement issues, timelines, technical issues, or lack of resources, constraints are the factors that may impede the project and may negatively impact its outcome. Consider anticipating and defining such constraints that may hinder the workflow later.
Scope Exclusion – The scope exclusion consists of those components that won’t be part of the project or the deliverables.
Project Deliverables – Deliverables are the items provided to the client at the end of the project and sometimes at points along the way, along with their expected date. Deliverables can be anything from software features or products to reports or services.
Milestones – These are the most important elements of the project life cycle. They give the estimated dates when the final deliverables will be provided.
Acceptance Criteria – This provides a touchstone for how the deliverables will be evaluated. In other words, it sets a benchmark for measuring the client’s satisfaction with the project outcomes.
Approval – Final approval is when the client signs off on the scope statement. In approving, they are acknowledging that all the prerequisites included in the document are acceptable, and the project can begin.
What Is Scope Creep?
Scope creep is when the scope of the project increases after the project has already commenced. These changes are neither anticipated upfront nor defined in the scope statement. Therefore, once this scope creep pops up, it can impact the budget, timelines, and deliverable quality. Scope creep can also create a situation where some parts of the project require more work or time, disrupting the project flow. Therefore, try to account for all possible contingencies when initially scoping the project to mitigate the risk of scope creep.
Scope Planning and Management Process
The scope management process ensures that the goals approved by the client in the scope statement are achieved within the stipulated budget and timeframe. We advise following these steps in order to manage the project scope in a hassle-free way:
- Determine the project scope
- Map out and write the scope statement for the project
- Get approval from the client
- Create and implement a scope management plan
- Monitor the project scope throughout the project life cycle
Change Management Process
Changes are inevitable and can sneak up unexpectedly amid the project life cycle. However, you need to ensure that those changes resonate with the project’s goal. If a project is soundly scoped from the beginning, then management of such changes will be simplified.
The following points may help you avoid scope creep and can help to tackle it if it arises.
- Try to identify any contingencies that can pop up later. Predicting these unexpected contingencies beforehand is crucial as they directly affect project activities and deliverables.
- Discern how these changes might impact the project, what areas of the project will be affected by them, and how they might adversely impact the project’s outcome or flow.
- If scope creep occurs, ask for approval from the client before making changes to the project. Clients and project managers must collaborate to evaluate if these changes are critical.
- Start making the changes as per the new timelines once you receive approval so that the project can stay on track.
The change management process requires that the project manager and client meticulously assess any new requests that are out of scope to determine which ones can be approved.
Steps to Define Your Project Scope
1. Determine the Objective of the Project
The objective of the project is the most crucial part of the project scope. An objective refers to the final deliverables that are produced at the end of the project cycle.
2. Plan the Resources
In project management planning, resources can include anything from budget and software tools to team bandwidth. The project manager must clearly understand what resource allocation will be needed for the completion of the project.
3. Determine Constraints and Exclusions
It is imperative to identify all possible project constraints or exclusions from the outset. Constraints like cost or timelines can negatively influence the project workflow, so considering these factors before the project begins will help to avoid any misunderstandings with the clients.
4. Map Out and Assign Tasks
Planning tools are available that can help project managers figure out what tasks will need to be performed to complete this project, how much time each task will require, and how to organize tasks into a hierarchy.
5. Plan Resource Management
Once the tasks are determined, then resources need to be allocated. The resources can be team members, software, equipment, or any items required to complete the project. Resource requirements should be carefully estimated, then allocated as per each task’s requirements.
6. Get Approval From the Client
Share and review the project scope statement with the client. Make sure you get buy-in from the client since it will be hard to change the scope statement after the project commences.
7. Share the Project Scope Statement With the Team Members
Once the client approves the plan, share the project scope statement with the team and make sure each one of them understands their respective tasks. Make sure to check the project scope statement documents frequently to ensure you are on the right track. If there is any need for changes or the addition of new elements, the project manager can submit a corresponding request.
Project Scope Example
Let’s consider the case of a company that has undertaken a website rebuild project. Here is a brief example of what a project scope should look like:
An introduction outlines the “why and what” elements of the project. You can consider it the cornerstone of the scope statement. Here’s an example: “This website rebuild project is undertaken by the SmartInc company. The objective is to transfer the website backend on the CMS platform to improve the page loading speed.”
All the required tasks, resources, and prerequisites are defined under the project scope. For instance, “The project will require a web team of five people and 30 working hours for six weeks and $5,000 resource cost. ”
Deliverables are what outcome will be achieved at the end of the project. For example, “The entire website will be transferred to a new CMS platform by the end of August 2022.”
It outlines how the deliverable will be assessed. For example, “The software team will analyze the performance of the website on the new CMS, and the project head will review the overall deliverable”.
Exclusion defines the components that will not be part of the deliverable. For instance, “Customizable web pages will not be transferred to the CMS”.
Constraints are the barriers that may negatively influence the project, such as “Technical issues or changes in scope may arise as constraints”.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a project scope statement in project management?
A scope statement is a document that includes all the elements that are required to complete a project, like resources, budget, timelines, and deliverables. The scope statement gathers all of the project-related details in one document, so they can be approved by the client and act as a guide during the course of the project.
How do you write a project scope statement?
The project scope is outlined in a document called a scope statement. It should consist of project scope, constraints, deliverables, acceptance criteria, and exclusions.
What three things does the scope of a project define?
The scope of a project gives clarity to the project. It defines the objective of the project, resources planning, constraints, and expected deliverables that align with client requirements.