Project Scope Management

What is Project Scope Management?

One of the most important and complex aspects of project management is project scope management. So, what is it? Let's get started!

January 1, 2022


Project scope is one of the three core elements of project management: Scope – Time and Cost. In modern project development trends, project scope management is a common occurrence. Building scope management skills, as well as handling project scope arising, is an important requirement for projects in general and project management personnel in particular. In this article, we will present the main processes related to project scope management, and also mention the relevant aspects and treatment options for effective project scope management

What is Project Scope?

Project scope is an important part of project planning that involves identifying and documenting a list of specific project objectives, tasks, costs, and specific deadlines. The project’s scope document, known as the scope statement or terms of reference, explains project boundaries, establishes responsibilities for each team member, and verification and approval processes. Review completed work.

Large projects tend to change as they progress. If a project has been effectively scoped from the outset, it’s easier to manage these changes. When documenting a project’s scope, stakeholders should be as specific as possible to avoid scope creep – a situation where one or more parts of a project end up requiring a lot of work, more time, or even more effort due to poor strategic planning or miscommunication.

Project Scope Management
Project Scope Management

Project Scope Statement PMP

The project scope description is the result of defining the project scope. The project scope description details the project outputs and the work done to produce the outputs.

A project description should include the following:

  • Product scope description: This is a detailed description of the properties, characteristics of a product, service or work result.
  • Product quality standards: Clearly define the standards so that the product can pass the final inspection before being put on the market.
  • Project outputs: Outputs include both products/services and other ancillary outputs such as project management documents and reports.
  • Non-project work: Identify non-project work contents and clearly describe what is out of project scope to help manage customer expectations
  • Project constraints: List and describe project constraints such as project budget, project completion time, or completion schedule for key work items.
  • Project assumptions: Assumptions about events that affect the project and how to effectively resolve them

The role of the project scope description

The project scope description creates a unified understanding among all project actors. Indicate what is not within the scope of the project to help manage the expectations of project stakeholders.

The project scope description allows the project team to conduct detailed planning during implementation. It also provides a basis for assessing whether additional project change or workload requirements are within the project scope.

Why Do Project Managers Need Scope Project Management?

Here are several benefits in terms of scope management recommended to any organization running a new project:

  • Clearly state what the project entails so that all stakeholders can understand what is involved
  • Provides a roadmap that managers can use to assign tasks, organize work, and budget properly
  • Helps focus team members on common goals
  • Prevent projects, especially complex ones, from expanding beyond the established scope.

Project managers often find that setting project scope ensures projects stay focused and deliver on expectations. Scope provides a solid foundation for managing a project as it moves forward and helps ensure that resources are not diverted or wasted on factors out of scope.

Steps Involved in Project Scope Management

Project scope management includes the processes involved in defining and controlling what is and isn’t included in a project. The purpose of this is to ensure that all project personnel agree on the output product as well as the process of implementing and producing the product of that project.

Project scope management includes the following key processes:

Project scope management planning

Scope management for a project begins with creating a management plan for the duration of the project. This process has two important outputs: a scope management plan and a requirements management plan. What are the project requirements? The concept of project requirements is explained in the PMBOK® Guide, Fifth Edition as follows: “conditions or capabilities that must be met in a project or embodied in a product, service, or result in order to satisfy an applicable agreement or specification”.

The requirements management plan will document in detail how project requirements are analyzed, documented, and managed. This plan usually includes the following information:

  • How to plan, monitor and report required activities
  • Ways of expressing the activities of configuration management
  • How to prioritize requests
  • How to use product matrix
  • How to track and record request attributes

Collect project requirements

The next, often the most difficult of the project scope management processes – is gathering project requirements. The problem with this step is the lack of a standard process for collecting and documenting project requirements.

There are several methods to collect requests. Among them, one-on-one interviews are often very effective, but they are time- and resource-consuming. Organizing focus groups and seminars, using creative groups, decision-making techniques, etc. is usually quicker and more cost-effective than face-to-face interviews. In addition, distributing survey questions is also a viable method if the participants provide information honestly and thoroughly. For information technology projects, the project requirements collection can also apply two popular methods: prototyping and document analysis.

Project scope definition

What is scope in project management? The next step in project scope management is to define the details of the work required for the project. This is very important and crucial to the success of the project as it improves the accuracy of the estimated time, cost, and resources. The primary outcome of the scope definition is the project scope statement and project documentation update.

Key inputs for preparing a project scope statement include the project charter, scope management plan, requirements documentation, and organizational process assets such as related policies and procedures. the scope statement, as well as project files and lessons learned from previous similar projects. Although content varies, project scope statements must include at least a description of the product scope, product user acceptance criteria, and details of all project deliverables. 

Build a project work breakdown table (WBS)

After gathering requirements and defining scope, the next step in project scope management is to create a work breakdown table (WBS). The WBS board is often described as an organizational chart, centered on tasks. A project team typically organizes a WBS based on the project’s product, phases, or process groups. In WBS, the work package is the lowest unit. A work package should be defined at the appropriate level so that the project manager can unambiguously establish an estimate of the effort required to complete it, an estimate of the cost of all required resources. design and evaluate the quality of the results when the work package is completed.

There are several different methods for building a work roster:

  • Use the available guide
  • Equivalent application method
  • Top-down approach
  • Bottom-up approach
  • Mind mapping method
  • Confirm project scope

Scope validation

It is very difficult to create a good project scope statement and WBS for a project. However, it is even more difficult, especially for IT projects, to verify project scope and minimize scope changes. Some project teams knew from the outset that the scope was very unclear and that they had to work closely with the project client to design and manufacture the various products. In this case, the project team must develop a scoping process that meets the unique needs of the project. Careful processes must be developed to ensure that the customer gets what they want and that the project team has enough time and money to produce the desired products and services.

Scope validation involves formal acceptance of completed project deliverables. This acceptance is usually achieved by inspection by the customer and then signing on the main products. To receive formal acceptance of the project scope, the project team must clearly document the project’s deliverables and procedures to assess whether they are completed correctly and satisfactorily. 

Project scope management control

Scope control involves managing changes to the project scope while keeping in mind the project goals and business strategy. Users are often unsure of how they want the display to look or what functionality they will need to improve business performance. Developers aren’t exactly sure how to interpret user requirements, and they also have to deal with constantly changing technologies.

The goal of scope control is to influence the factors that cause scope change, to ensure that changes are handled according to procedures developed as part of integrated change control and management as well as handle changes as they happen. The project management plan, requirements document, requirements traceability matrix, work performance data, and organizational process assets are key inputs to scope control.

Steps for Identifying the Scope of Project Management

Depending on the formation conditions of the project, for example, the customer gives the project manager a very detailed and clear product description, the project manager will not need to worry too much about the scope of the project. However, in case the organization realizes the business need and decides to initiate the project, the Project Manager now has to do everything from scratch (collect requirements, evaluate requirements, define scope, find stakeholders…)

With a waterfall implementation project: the project manager should develop and define the product scope during the initialization phase of the project. The most effective way is to hold a meeting with stakeholders and clarify the requirements for the product and close the scope before the end of the launch phase.

With agile/adaptive implementation projects: The product scope may not be finalized at the outset, but the project manager needs to continuously update and clarify the scope during implementation.

Understanding the difference between project scope and product scope helps project managers:

  • Separation of scope related activities during project implementation
  • Understand project workflow
  • Limit the risks associated with the scope
  • Avoid arising/requiring to change the project scope

Besides scope management process, find out more about project management steps in Project Management.

Reasons for the loss of control over the project scope

Loss of project scope control in project management is understood as a loss of control over the change or continuation of the project’s size. This phenomenon occurs when the project scope is not clearly defined, defined, and controlled. This often tends to lead to negative effects and should be avoided during the developing process of any organization.

If budgets and schedules increase with project scope, this change is generally considered an acceptable extension to the project, when the term loss of control over project scope is not used.

Loss of project scope control is often caused by the following main reasons:

  • Customer dishonesty with a defined “free value” policy
  • Poor change control
  • Lack of proper awareness of the objectives needed for the project
  • The poor project manager or project sponsor
  • Poor communication between project stakeholders

Tips for Project Scope Management 

There are 3 common ways to help control project scope well including:

  • Project Charter

It is a highly legal document used to confirm the official approval for the project leader to use the allocated resources to satisfy the requirements for the project. In some organizations, BAs are often involved in the development of business cases and project charters. For the development of project charters, BAs often use the technique of drawing a Context Diagram. The Activity Context Diagram is the starting point for designing the technical aspects of the system.

  • Use Case Diagram

Use Case diagrams contain model elements that represent systems, actors, and use cases, and show relationships between use cases. A Use Case diagram shows:

  • System
  • Agent
  • Use Case

The significant benefit of using a Use Case chart is that it helps business stakeholders think about how they can change the roles people play in their organization. Regarding the system element, the boundary of the system that we want to develop needs to be clearly defined. This also helps the BA to define the project scope.

  • Product Backlog

According to the trend of modern software development, the concept of Product Backlog is a collection of functions that need to be developed by the product. It is regularly updated to meet the changing needs of customers as well as project conditions. According to the Product Backlog, requests with high priority are executed first. Customers will be the first one whose demands will be met.

Read more about Project Financials

The above article has provided you with beneficial information about Project scope management as well as tips for building an effective procedure during the developing process of organizations. We all hope that this information will help you have a better start to your manager career.

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