What is Project Scope Management and Why is it Important?

Updated Aug 3, 2022.
project-scope-management

The ultimate desire of every project manager is to successfully oversee the smooth running of a project from project initiation to completion. However, this is rarely the case for most projects.

Even after you have created an effective project plan and sorted out all the project details in advance with the project team and other stakeholders, there is always a chance that the project scope can change during project execution.

By managing the scope of your project, you can properly plan your project and get everything required to achieve your project goals. 

In this article, you will learn the A-Z of what project scope management is all about including how to create a scope management plan.

Let’s get started.

What is Project Scope Management?

Project scope management is an integral part of the project planning process. This process details out all the important factors about the project including the project goals, tasks, deliverables, set timelines, as well as available resources to be utilized. It is one of the 10 project management knowledge areas that help you become a more effective project manager. 

A well-defined project scope from the onset helps prevent the occurrence of potential bottlenecks that usually disrupt the project process and if need be, changes can easily be slotted in.

Project scope management covers all the necessary preparations and procedures that must be put in place to accomplish a desired product or service result outcome. 

This helps to efficiently map out the right steps and processes to be taken by project managers in ensuring the right amount of time and resources expended delivers a successful project outcome. 

Effective project scope management also helps point out the irregularities plaguing the project process as regards the wrong utilization of limited resources. It ensures the project stakeholders do not lose sight of the set project objectives.

Importance of Project Scope Management

Managing the expectations of the project’s sponsors and stakeholders is one of the most daunting tasks project managers face when executing the project. This task becomes seemingly easier with the introduction of an efficient project scope management plan, which serves as an efficient project tracker.

1. Prevents the Occurrence of Project Bottlenecks

Project scope management helps prevent the various issues that occur during the project process such as over-bloated budget, changes occurring mid-way as well as constant changing requirements. 

These possible project bottlenecks need to be constantly put in check to ensure it does not indirectly derail the project schedule.

2. Limits the Existence of Scope Creep

Scope creep is one of the major challenges faced during a project process. An efficient project scope management plan helps prevent this major stumbling block by ruling out unnecessary requirements during the project process. This ensures the project does not deviate from its set course.  

Common Causes of Scope Cheep
Source: Jwsuretybonds

3. Enables Efficient Communication

Clear and efficient communication is required at all points during the project process among project stakeholders. Project scope management ensures all project stakeholders are on the same page regarding the project scope and how the project goals are to be met.

What is Project Scope?

Project scope is an essential plan of the project process that details the project’s goals, deliverables, and key resources. This document ensures the series of essential project work needed to ensure successful completion of the project is well detailed out. 

The project scope document aims to ensure all project stakeholders properly and thoroughly understand the project sponsor’s requirements. 

Project Scope Infographic
Source: Pmbasics101

The project scope statement essentially contains the project’s objectives, deliverables, milestones, and potential constraints. Project scope can also efficiently serve as a boundary for your project process by clearly defining all the necessary parameters required to ensure timely project completion.

How to Create a Scope Management Plan

A well-planned scope management plan is pivotal to the successful completion of a project. The scope management plan is essential documentation of adequate measures and processes aimed at ensuring the project reaches its goals and objectives.

1. Define Project Needs

The first step in creating a scope project plan is to define the project needs. This involves setting the necessary timelines and goals as well as the proper allocation of resources. 

Carefully defining the project needs is important as it serves as a point of reference for future check-in on the progress made and the level of resources utilized so far. 

While defining your project needs, adequate emphasis needs to be made on establishing the project objectives. These objectives are crucial in ensuring the project team delivers the results required.

2. Define the Project Scope

The resources and effort being utilized during the project process make up the project scope. Project scope is a satisfactory outline of the goals to be achieved. 

While defining the scope of a project, the project objectives, goals, tasks, resources, budget, and schedules need to be appropriately identified. It is upon successful identification of these parameters that the project limiting factors can be determined.

Defining the project scope helps paint a clear picture to respective project stakeholders involved in the project process as to the desired outcome the project is expected to deliver. 

The project scope assists in laying out the objectives of the organization for which the project is to be carried out. This helps instill a sense of commitment and accountability among project stakeholders as they have a clear idea of what is to be expected and the appropriate acceptable standards.

3. Generate a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

A work breakdown structure (WBS) is a document that outlines project deliverables in a well-arranged fashion. This is a critical portion of the scope management plan and is usually displayed in a chart-like format. 

The work breakdown structure is designed in such a way that all the project deliverables are adequately accounted for. This helps in keeping tabs on the various project stages being embarked on in real-time.

Contained in the project work breakdown structure is relevant information regarding the project cost, schedules, dependencies and resources to be allocated. This information is necessary for creating a proper outlook of the project expectancies. 

The project work breakdown structure does not detail these factors but instead provides the necessary information to aid in determining them.

Work Breakdown Structure Example
Source: Wrike

4. Translate Your Work Breakdown Structure into Discrete Tasks

Break down your work breakdown structure further into discrete tasks. This aims at further simplifying the project process as well as pave way for more efficient progress tracking. For this process, you will require a proper and thorough definition of the project's activities to be embarked on as well as logical sequencing of events.

During further breakdown, proper allocation of resources to various task activities is needed in addition to the estimated cost expected for each assigned task. This is necessary as it creates a road map on how the resources are utilized at different stages of the project process.

Translating your work breakdown structure into discrete tasks also details who was responsible for various tasks and resources at different points of the project process.

5. Identify Project Requirements

Formulating an efficient project requirements management plan is an essential step for generating a project scope management plan. A proper and accurate understanding of the project sponsor’s requirement is essential to the proper delivery of project goals and objectives. 

This is also important to create an accurate scope statement that acts as an efficient guide for the project process. It is upon proper identification of the necessary project requirements that the project manager has a confidence boost about where the project seems to be headed. 

The project’s requirements are essentially detailed in a document known as the requirement management plan. This document solely describes a project’s set approach to managing the project’s requirements and the necessary methods to be utilized for proper identification, prioritizing, and tracking of these said project requirements. 

Also, the requirement management plan properly identifies all the project stakeholders to be involved throughout the entirety of the project process. 

Project Requirements Management Plan
Source: Sampletemplates

6. Develop a Project Scope Statement

The project scope statement is essentially a document that describes in detail all the necessary tasks and activities to be embarked on alongside its budget and expected schedule in delivering the project’s set requirements. 

Product Scope Statement Example
Source: Templatelab

7. Define your Project Process

List out the processes that will guide the scope management plan. This step is necessary as it complements the project team's efforts at delivering the project’s requirements. It also helps reduce the likelihood of confusion as the project process commences as all the necessary procedures and requirements have been properly detailed out.

Project Scope Management Processes

For an efficient project scope management plan, a series of processes need to be factored together to ensure the successful completion of the project.

1. Project Scope Management Plan

Creating a well-detailed project scope plan document is essential for the success of any project. This document is so important and would constantly be referred to during various stages of the project process. It acts as an efficient guide in defining, controlling, managing, and validating the project’s scope.

The key details contained in this document include:

  • A well-detailed project scope statement
  • Project requirements and deliverables 
  • The process for conducting changes to the project scope plan if the need arises. 

Ensure you carry all relevant project stakeholders along when drawing up the project scope management plan. This document should be clear and easily understandable by all relevant project stakeholders.

Scope Management Plan Template
Source: Academia.edu

2. Collating Requirements

Determine the respective project stakeholder’s tasks and expectations for the project. Thorough documentation of all the necessary project requirements, as well as resources and deliverables, is required.  

You can gather this information by conducting interviews with project stakeholders as well as group discussions. It is important to seek the inputs of all project stakeholders involved in a bid to prevent the occurrence of in-built dissatisfaction among project members.

Oftentimes, project stakeholders tend to have rather ambiguous and unrealistic requirements. The onus is on the project manager to find a perfect working balance that fits all or in some cases, the vast majority. This helps to ensure all project stakeholders’ expectations are adequately managed.

3. Defining the Project Scope

Defining the project scope entails turning your collated requirements into a working description of the project product or service to be delivered. 

This working description produces the necessary project scope statement that would essentially guide the project scope management process. It also acts as a point of reference for project stakeholders in keeping tabs on the project process. 

Listing out what is considered out of scope for a project process is equally as important as detailing out the scope. If the need arises for the project scope to be reviewed and amended, the project scope should be drilled through the adequate change control process. 

This helps to streamline the effort of the project team and ensure resources are not wrongly utilized in covering an out-of-scope requirement.

4. Making a Project Work Breakdown Structure

The breakdown of the entire task needed to be completed during the project process as well as to who the tasks are assigned to all is contained in the project work breakdown structure document. This document also details key deliverables and their respective deadlines. 

This key process can easily be accomplished with the aid of adequate project management software. The project management software helps in the tracking of the progress of the project process whilst also granting project managers the ability to place priorities on significant tasks. This ensures the project team works faster and more efficiently in meeting the project set deadline.

5. Validating the Project Scope

During the implementation of the project scope management plan, key milestones and deliverables reached need to be reviewed by the project sponsors and key project members. 

This is important in ensuring that the project scope gets the necessary validation from the project executives. You need to carry out this process before the commencement of the project process as changes might need to be made.

The validation of the project scope process can be done more efficiently by putting in place an operational system of records. This system ensures your project deliverables are automatically submitted for validation to the project sponsor. 

The benefit of this key improvement is that it helps to remove a lot of stress that often arises from manual submissions.

6. Controlling the Project Scope

Project managers regularly need to keep an eye out for the project scope as soon as it is enacted to ensure it does not fall victim to scope creep or in some cases, slide out of scope. If the need for changes arises, the proper change control channel should be followed to enact such changes. 

Regular monitoring of the project progress is essential in ensuring the project meets up to its set objectives and goals as laid out in the project scope management plan. The habit of regular comparison of the project progress with its requirements should be cultivated by project managers.  

Control Scope Process
Source: Simplilearn

Tips for an Effective Project Scope Management

Project scope management often comes with a series of issues that need to be maneuvered during the project planning process.

1. Avoid Ambiguity in Your Project Scope

This is majorly the root of confusion as a result of unneeded work. Clearly defining your project scope helps to keep ambiguity in check.

2. Properly Define Your Project Scope

The menace of not adequately defining your scope needs to be cut short as it leads to constraints on the available resources as a result of cost overrun. The project scope needs to be adequately defined and as exact as possible.

3. Avoid Making Changes to the Project Scope

The result of the ever-changing project scope is scope creep which is the root of unending projects. Ensuring your project scope remains unaltered during the duration of the project process successfully defeats project creep.

4. Keep it Simple

Your project scope as well as its management plans need to be kept as simple and plain as possible. This is to ensure all stakeholders required to implement the said management plans have a good understanding of what is to be implemented. 

Confusion often occurs as a result of a lack of understanding and this can be avoided by simply making out a simple and easy to comprehend project scope and management plan.

5. Involvement of All Stakeholders in Scope Development

Involving all stakeholders in scope development is necessary to ensure all stakeholders required in the project process are carried along, especially in the determination of the project scope and scope management plan. This is critical to ensure the project does not derail from its set course of completion. 

The project sponsor needs to be regularly updated on the project progress. This helps to remove the occurrence of last-minute negotiations and scrambling in a bid to meet the project’s sponsor requirements.

6. Make it Visual

The biggest flaw when it comes to project scope management is the difficulty of painting a clear picture of what is not in the scope. Many project scope documents only detail out what is expected and leave a huge room for confusion as to what is not to be. 

Visual representations help to deal with this fundamental issue. A notable example is a story map which helps with an efficient visual representation of the requirements and features as regards the project completion status. Burn-up charts also help provide the project scope’s projected timeline and cost.

7. Proper Communication of Scope Management Methods

During the project planning phase, certain assumptions would have been made in the project scope plan. These assumptions need to be adequately accounted for to avoid discrepancies. 

Proper communication of these assumptions in the scope management plan needs to be communicated to all project stakeholders to ensure everyone is on board. In the likelihood of a need for revisiting the initial project scope management plan, there would be no room for confusion.

Anastasia Belyh

Editor at FounderJar

Anastasia has been a professional blogger and researcher since 2014. She loves to perform in-depth software reviews to help software buyers make informed decisions when choosing project management software, CRM tools, website builders, and everything around growing a startup business.

Anastasia worked in management consulting and tech startups, so she has lots of experience in helping professionals choosing the right business software.