Project Scope Management and its importance
For a project manager, scope knowledge area is very important, and Project Management Institute (PMI)® also emphasizes this.
Let us, then, start with the basics.
What is Scope?
PMBOK® defines Project Scope as the "The work that needs to be accomplished to deliver a product, service, or result with the specified features and functions."
The definition of Scope follows from the decision of setting out the work to 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.
The 3 Facets of Scope Management
The planning process is when an attempt is made 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 an assessment of the outcomes against the original plan.
The Scope Statement
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 the terms of reference.
Steps Involved in Project Scope Management
A systematic process to capture, define, and monitor scope follows.
Step #1 - Define the needs
Step #2 - Understand the Project Objectives
How do you define the project scope?
Steps for defining the scope of a project
- Project objectives
The Project Scope Management Processes
Plan Scope Management:
The table below shows the Inputs, Tools and Techniques, and Outputs of the Plan Scope Management Process.
The table below shows the Inputs, Tools and Techniques, and the Outputs of the Collect Requirements process.
The scope clearly states what the project is supposed to achieve and what it cannot accomplish. The supporting documents are reviewed to ensure that the project will deliver work in line with the stated goals. The scope that results will then state the stakeholders' 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 (WBS)
The table below shows the Inputs, Tools and Techniques and the Outputs of the WBS process.
The table below shows the Inputs, Tools and Techniques and the Outputs of the Scope Verification process.
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
- Ambiguity: Ambiguity in scope often leads to unnecessary work and confusion. To avoid this, the scope needs to be clearly defined and to the point.
- Incomplete definition: Incomplete scopes lead to schedule slips which lead to cost overruns. To avoid this, the scope needs to be complete and accurate.
- Transience: Transient scopes lead to scope creep which is the primary cause of late deliveries and "never ending" projects. To avoid this, the scope document needs to be finalized and remain unaltered for the duration of the project.
- Un-collaborative scope: A scope that is not collaboratively prepared causes misinterpretations in requirements and design. To avoid this, the scope document should be shared with all stakeholders at every step of the scope definition process.
Why project managers need Scope Management
Scope management helps avoid the challenges that a project might face with bloating scope and an unruly requirements list. Project scope clearly sets out 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 mechanisms to address factors that may result in changes 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 a lack of communication, scope may need to change. This directly affects the cost and disturbs the schedule of the project, causing losses.
Successful Scope Management is a function of strategic management actions and utilizing suitable tools that extend human thinking and aid in the definition scope at a fairly low level of granularity.
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