Scope Statement in a Project: What To Do And What Not To?

Scope of the work is nothing but a detailed description of what work you need to do and what work you need not do. Do you think it is project manager’s work to decide what to do and what not to in the project? Obviously, it is project manager’s sole responsibility to define scope of the work for his/her project after having a discussion with several stakeholders. It is a huge task being performed by the project manager in the planning stage. As you know planning is itself a big task and defining the scope is very important and this has to be performed by the allocated project manager in the scope management knowledge area. Actually, everything including the success of a project depends on the scope defined by you.
In general, you can get important information of scope from signed project charter. As you know, high-level product description and high-level project requirement could be obtained from project charter itself. If you, as a project manager, have worked on developing project charter, it would be easier for you to understand this initial document (Project Charter). Based on this high-level product description and high-level project requirement, you can elaborate this information in detailed way to create actual scope of the work for your project.
Who should be involved in defining the scope? Although you cannot precisely describe a complete list of members who define the scope, below-mentioned list of individuals should be involved owing to their expertise. They are as follows:

  • Project manager
  • SMEs
  • Other project managers
  • Team members (Pre-assigned)
  • Customer
  • Senior management personnel
  • Other stakeholders

As a good project manager, you need to know when to define the scope. What could be there before and after the processes and in between?
Predecessor And Successor of Defining Scope Process
As per  PMBOK®, define scope is performed in scope management knowledge area just after gathering the actual project requirement from different stakeholders (Collect Requirement). There are so many ways of gathering the information from the stakeholders such as brainstorming, interviewing, Delphi method, questionnaires and surveys and more. Based on the gathered information pertaining to the project goal, it is imperative for a project manager to reflect those while defining the scope. It is always wise to invite customer so that the customer will have a fair idea regarding the actual requirement as s/he is the best person to provide you with the input.

Based on the gathered information, you define the scope of the project and the output of this process in known as project scope statement. In the project scope statement you will be getting the information on what work you need to do and what work you need not.
Generally, a project scope statement consists of following information:

  • Product features (Product scope)
  • Major deliverables
  • Risk associated
  • How will you accept the project
  • What could be the major constraints

Now you need to sub-divide your project scope into small manageable portions by breaking down the process so that a project manager could manage them effectively. This process is entirely known as work breakdown structure (WBS). The lower level of WBS is known as work package level and these work package levels should be a complete deliverable and in a way in which it triggers the schedule and price. A project manager should try to manage such work package levels tactfully.
The feature of the work package could be found in WBS dictionary. A dictionary shows all the pertinent information of the work package such as what is the actual work needed, what skill sets are required, how to accept the work package, who will be working on it, total cost, schedule and more. WBS dictionary is very useful when some new team members join your project. You can refer WBS dictionary to those new comers and s/he can easily understand her/his tasks associated with the project. That’s why, it is very important to create WBS accurately so that you can avoid gold plating in the project. Don’t include unnecessary work in the project to please the customer.
By creating WBS you will be getting scope baselines in a place. Scope baselines are nothing but a combination of project scope statement, Work Breakdown Structure(WBS), and WBS dictionary altogether. Generally, scope baselines should be treated as project boundary. A project manager and his/her team are bound to work within this boundary. And this boundary is now the bible for your team and you as a guardian should maintain discipline within this boundary.


PMBOK is a registered trademark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

About the Author


Eshna is a writer at Simplilearn. She has done Masters in Journalism and Mass Communication and is a Gold Medalist in the same. A voracious reader, she has penned several articles in leading national newspapers like TOI, HT and The Telegraph. She loves traveling and photography.

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