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Project Scope Management and Its Importance

Avantika Monnappa
Project Scope Management
Project Scope Management is the management of the process that is required to ensure that a project includes all the work necessary to complete the project successfully. It is concerned primarily with controlling what is and what is not in the scope.

For a project manager, scope knowledge area is very important and PMI (Project Management Institute) also emphasizes on it.

Let us, then, start with the basics.

What is Scope?

Scope refers to the detailed set of deliverables or features of a project. These deliverables are derived from a project’s requirements. It is the decision of what work will be completed during the lifecycle of a project. Included in this is also the identification of work that will not be counted in the ongoing round of the service/product development.

Under Project Scope management are three processes. The planning process is when the outputs are created that work to capture and define the work that needs competition.  The controlling and monitoring processes are concerned with documenting tracking, scope creep, tracking, and disapproving/ approving project changes. The final process, closing includes an audit of the project deliverables and assess the outcomes against the original plan.

The scope of a project is the clear identification of the work that is required to successfully complete or deliver a project.  One of the project manager’s responsibilities is to ensure that only the required work (the scope) will be performed and that each of the deliverables can be completed in the allotted time and within budget.

The documentation of the scope of the project will explain the boundaries of the project, establish the responsibilities of each member of the team and set up procedures for how work that is completed will be verified and approved.  This documentation may be referred to as the scope statement, or the statement of work, or terms of reference.

Steps involved in Project Scope Management

As a project manager, you'll need to define project scope no matter what methodology you choose to use.

Define the needs

Defining the needs of the project is the first step towards the establishment of a project timeline, allocation project resources and setting project goals. Only with these steps defined, will you be able to understand the work that needs to be done – in other words, the scope of the project needs to be defined. Once that is done, team members can be allocated tasks, and the direction to which they need to work towards to deliver a project in the given time and budget.

Understand the project objectives

To define the project scope, it is important to first establish the objectives of the project, which may include a new product, creating a new service within the organization, or develop a new piece of software. There are a number of objectives that could be central to a project and it becomes the role of the project manager to ensure that the team delivers that result according to the specified features or functions.

How do you define the project scope?

The resources and the work that is put into the creation of a product or service is essentially the ones that frame the scope of the project. The scope generally outlines the goals to be met to achieve a satisfactory result. It is important for project managers to understand how to define the scope of the project.

Steps for defining the scope of a project

To define the scope of the project, it is important to identify the following:
  • Project objectives
  • Goals
  • Sub-phases
  • Tasks
  • Resources
  • Budget
  • Schedule
Once these parameters are established, the limitations and parameters of the project need to be clarified and identify the aspects that are not to be included in the project. When doing this, the project scope will make clear to the stakeholders, senior management and team members what will and will not be included in the final product or service.

Along with this the scope of the project must have a tangible objective for the organization that is undertaking the project. This is integral for the scope of the project, since it will play a vital role in how project methodologies are applied to complete the project.

The Project Scope Management Processes

The Scope management processes include

Plan Scope Management:

This is the first process in the Project scope management process. The PMBOK Guide, Fifth Edition, adds several processes to separate the initial planning activities from other activities.  This process created the scope management plan. The scope management plan describes the project scope and documents how it will be further defined, validated, and controlled.

The table below shows the Inputs, Tools and Techniques, and Outputs of the Plan Scope Management Process.

The Scope management plan involves how the scope will be defined, validated and controlled. It also includes how to prevent and deal with the scope creep, handling of the change requests, the escalation path for any disagreement on the scope elements between the stakeholders, the process for the creation of the scope statement, the WBS, and how the deliverables will be accepted.

Collect Requirements

This process involves the documentation of the stakeholders needs with the intention of meeting the project objectives. During this process managers seek to use multiple techniques and tools for the collection of the project requirements from the stakeholders. The process attempts to leave no stone unturned resulting an in depth list of project requirements. If this process if performed thoroughly and correctly, it reduces the number of surprises as the project moves towards completion.

The table below shows the Inputs, Tools and Techniques and the Outputs of the Collect Requirements process.

Define Scope

This process involves the defining of a detailed description of the project and its major deliverables.
The next step is to define the scope. This process clearly states what the project is supposed to and what it cannot accomplish. The supporting documents are reviewed ensuring that the project will work up to the stated goals. The resulting scope will then state the stakeholder’s needs and communicate the expectations for the performance of the project.

The table below shows the Inputs, Tools and Techniques and the Outputs of the Defining process.

Create Work Breakdown Structure

The Work Breakdown Structure(WBS) is an important part of the Scope management process and the PMI stresses on this point as many managers skip this step which leads to inaccurate plans. The WBS provides the project manager and his team with the opportunity to break down a high level scope statement to a smaller, manageable units of work, called work packages. The resulting WBS should provide a complete list of all work packages required to complete the project

The table below shows the Inputs, Tools and Techniques and the Outputs of the WBS process.

Scope Verification

The Validate Scope process, focuses mainly on customer acceptance. It is when the project customer formally accepts all the project deliverables. This process occurs at the end of each phase. During the process, the customer gives their feedback on the work that was performed.

The table below shows the Inputs, Tools and Techniques and the Outputs of the Scope Verification process.

Scope control

The control scope process involves the monitoring of the status of the project and the managing of the scope changes.

This process involves the assessing of the additional requirements by the customer or proactively overlooking the project scope.  Managers will measure the work product against the scope baseline to ensure that the project stays on track, and prevent any unnecessary changes.

The table above shows the Inputs, Tools and Techniques and the Outputs of the Scope Control process.


Common problems with Project Scope Management to avoid

Often, project managers bump into issues along the way. The problems that may arise with Project Scope are:
  1. Ambiguous: Ambiguity in scope often leads to unnecessary work and confusion. To avoid this, the scope needs to be clearly defined and to the point.
  2. Incomplete: Incomplete scopes lead to schedule slips which lead to cost overrun. To avoid this, the scope needs to be complete and accurate.
  3. Transient: Transient scopes lead to scope creep which is the primary cause of late deliveries and potentially "never ending" projects. To avoid this, the scope document needs to be finalized and remain unaltered for the duration of the project.
  4. Un-collaborative: A scope that is not collaborated leads to misinterpretations in requirements and design. To avoid this, the scope document should be shared with all stakeholders.

Why project managers needs it

Effective scope management requires communication to be good and clear, as this ensures that members on the team understand the scope of the project, while agreeing on how the project goals will be met.

Scope management helps avoid the challenges that a project might face with every growing scope and unruly requirement list. Project scope defines what is or is not included in the project, and controls what gets added or removed as the project is executed. Scope management establishes control processes to address factors that may result in project change during the project life-cycle.

Without defining the project scope, the cost or time that the project will take up cannot be estimated. At times, due to the lack of communication, scopes may need change. This directly effects the cost and disturbs the schedule of the project which in turn leads to losses.


Scope management is a possible mission. It does, however, require some bit of effort, time and patience. With proper scope management it is easy to specify a clear scope and to deliver the project.

The success is based on strategic management actions and utilizing suitable tools that extend human thinking and describing the scope on a detailed level.
Get a taste of our PMP certification course. Here is 50 minutes of our world class Project Management training course.

For a project manager, scope knowledge area is very important. This article sums up the concept and states its importance for project managers.

Avantika holds a degree in Journalism, & writes on such topics of interest as PMP, Digital Marketing, Six Sigma, & Big Data. She also maintains a travelogue, blogs on media issues, and volunteers at a boarding home for stray dogs. She enjoys art & travelling, & loves outdoor activities like basketball, athletics, & swimming.

Leave a Comment

  • uyirwoth nelson March 1, 2016 06:35 pm

    this was quite useful

  • Ravi kumar gr June 14, 2015 12:03 pm

    As a fresher I completed my MBA- in PROJECT MANAGEMENT... Try to get PMP certification.

  • Ravi kumar gr June 14, 2015 12:01 pm

    As a fresher I completed my MBA- in PROJECT MANAGEMENT... Try to get PMP certification.

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