Project Scope Management refers to the set of processes that ensure a project’s scope is accurately defined and mapped. Scope Management techniques enable project managers and supervisors to allocate the right amount of work necessary to successfully complete a project—concerned primarily with controlling what is and what is not part of the project’s scope.

For a project manager, scope knowledge area is critical, and the Project Management Institute (PMI)® emphasizes this.

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What is Project Scope?

Scope refers to the detailed set of deliverables or features of a project. These deliverables are derived from a project’s requirements. 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.”

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Following are the three processes of Project Scope Management:

  • Planning

    The planning process is when an attempt is made to capture and define the work that needs to be done. 
  • Controlling

    The controlling and monitoring processes focus on documenting tracking, scope creep, tracking, and disapproving/approving project changes.
  • Closing

    In the final process, the closing includes an audit of the project deliverables and an assessment of the outcomes against the original plan.

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Project Scope Statement

The scope of a project is the clear identification of the work that is required to complete or deliver a project successfully. One of the project manager’s responsibilities is to ensure that only the needed 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 a work that is completed will be verified and approved. This documentation may be referred to as the scope statement, the statement of work, or the terms of reference.

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Steps Involved in Project Scope Management

As a project manager, you’ll need to define project scope no matter what methodology you choose. Here’s one example of a systematic process to capture, define, and monitor scope.

  1. Define Project Needs

    Defining the needs of the project is the first step to establish a project timeline, allocate project resources, and set project goals. Only with these defined steps, you will be able to understand the work that needs to be done, meaning, the scope of the project needs to be defined. Once that is done, team members can be allocated tasks and provided direction to deliver a project in the given time and budget.
  2. Understand the Project Objectives

    To define the project scope, it is important first to establish the objectives of the project, which may include a new product, creating a new service within the organization, or developing a new piece of software. There are several objectives that could be central to a project; the project manager ensures the team delivers results according to the specified features or functions.
  3. Define the Project Scope

    The resources and work that goes into the creation of a product or service are essentially what defines the scope of the project. The scope generally outlines the goals that will be met to achieve a satisfactory result.

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Steps for Defining the Scope of a Project

  1. Project objectives
  2. Goals
  3. Sub-phases
  4. Tasks
  5. Resources
  6. Budget
  7. Schedule

To define the scope of the project, identify the above parameters.

Once these parameters are established, the limitations of the project need to be clarified, and the aspects that are not to be included in the project identified. By doing this, the project scope will make clear to stakeholders, senior management, and team members what will and will not be included in the final product or service.

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Additionally, the scope of the project should 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 it.

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Project Scope Management Processes

Scope Management Process

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1. Plan Scope Management

It is the first process in the Project Scope Management process. The PMBOK® Guide, Fifth Edition, added several processes to separate the initial planning activities from other activities. This process creates 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.

Plan Scope Management

The Project Scope Management plan covers how the scope will be defined, validated, and controlled. It also includes information on preventing or dealing with scope creep, handling change requests, the escalation path for any disagreement on the scope elements between stakeholders, the process for the creation of the scope statement, WBS, and how the deliverables will be accepted.

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2. Collect Requirements

This process involves documenting stakeholders’ needs with the stated intent of meeting the project’s objectives. In this process, managers use several techniques and tools for collecting project requirements from stakeholders. The process attempts to leave no stone unturned, resulting in an in-depth list of project requirements. If this process is performed thoroughly and correctly, it can significantly reduce the possibility of unpleasant surprises as the project moves toward completion.

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

Collect Requirement Process

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3. Define Scope

This process involves the preparation of a detailed description of the project and its major deliverables. 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 states the stakeholders’ needs and communicates expectations for project performance.

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

Define Scope Process

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4. Create a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is an important element of the Scope Management process, and the PMI® places great emphasis on this aspect—many project managers often skip this step, which leads to inaccurate planning. The WBS provides the project manager and the team with the opportunity to break down a high-level scope statement into 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 Outputs of the Create Work Breakdown Structure process.

Create WBS Process

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5. Validate Scope

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 feedback on the work that was performed.

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

Validate Scope Process

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6. Control Scope

Control Scope is the last process group of project Scope Management. The Control Scope process involves monitoring the status of the project and managing changes to the scope.

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

Control Scope Process

This process involves assessing additional requirements from the customer or proactively overlooking the project scope. Managers measure the work product against the scope baseline to ensure that the project stays on track, and all requested changes & recommended corrective or preventive actions are processed through the integrated change control process.

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Project Scope Management Tips

Some common issues with performing Project Scope Management can lead to problems once the project has begun. We recommend reviewing all Scope Management documentation with an eye toward:

  • Ambiguity

    Ambiguity in scope often leads to unnecessary work and confusion. To avoid this, the scope needs to be clearly defined and precise.
  • 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—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.
  • Uncollaborative Scope

    A scope that is not collaboratively prepared causes misinterpretations in requirements and designs. To avoid this, the scope document should be shared with all stakeholders at every step of the scope definition process.

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Why Project Managers Need Scope Management?

Effective Project Scope Management requires clear communication, to ensure that stakeholders and team members alike 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 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 lifecycle.

Without defining the project scope, the cost and time that the project will take cannot be estimated. At times, due to a lack of communication, the scope may need to change. It directly affects the cost and disturbs the schedule of the project, causing losses.

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Project Scope Management is not difficult to implement; however, it does require effort, time, and patience. It’s worth the investment because proper Scope Management will help you specify a clear scope and deliver the project with minimal overruns.

If you’re studying for your PMP exam, consider online PMP Certification training from Simplilearn. We offer a wide variety of project management courses like the Post Graduate Program in Project Management taught by certified faculty with at least 10 years of industry experience.

Are you looking forward to making a mark in the Project Management field? If yes, enroll in the Project Management Fundamental Program now and get a step closer to your career goal!

About the Author

Avantika MonnappaAvantika Monnappa

A project management and digital marketing knowledge manager, Avantika’s area of interest is project design and analysis for digital marketing, data science, and analytics companies.

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  • PMP, PMI, PMBOK, CAPM, PgMP, PfMP, ACP, PBA, RMP, SP, and OPM3 are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.