About scope management

By Pcubed

Managing the scope of a project is an important part of project management. By properly managing the scope of your project, you help to ensure that only the essential work required for project completion is included in planning and scheduling. And by performing this task well, you help to ensure that the final project delivers on the initial specified product or service.

Scope management is composed of five distinct phases:

  1. Scope initiation
  2. Scope planning
  3. Scope definition
  4. Scope verification
  5. Scope change control

Scope initiation

Scope initiation is the process of formally recognizing the existence of a project within an organization. A project starts because a need is identified within the organization. An organizational need can be triggered by problems, opportunities, or business requirements, including:

  • Market demand
  • Business need
  • Customer request
  • Technological advance
  • Legal requirement

In actuality, a project develops a solution to address a need. However, before undertaking a project, it is crucial to verify that the project corresponds with the overall organization strategy.

With most projects, there is more than one approach to take to achieve the needed result. The common approach is to have experts brainstorm a list of available methods. Other creativity-enhancing methods (such as lateral thinking) are also possibilities to increase the likelihood of developing a good approach to a project.

After a list of approaches has been developed, one must be selected. An approach is suitable only if the approach meets all performance, cost, time, and scope requirements, and if the risks and consequences are acceptable. Among the selection methods that can be used are a decision model and expert judgment.

Decision models

  • Benefit Measurement Methods: a comparative approach, including scoring models, benefit contribution, or economic models.
  • Constrained Optimization Methods: mathematical models.

Expert judgment

Expert judgment is often required to assess the inputs to this process. Such expertise can come from:

  • Consultants
  • Other teams within the organization
  • Professional associations

When the optimal strategy is selected, the organization needs to identify and assign a project manager to the authorized project.

Scope planning

Scope planning is the justification of scope management. It is during the scope planning stage that the scope statement is developed. The scope statement forms the basis for an agreement between the project team and the customer by relating the work of the project to the business owner's objectives.

The scope statement should include:

  • Project justification    This is the business need that the project was undertaken to address.
  • Project product    This is a summary of the product description that documents the relationship between the created product or service and the business need.
  • Project deliverables    This is a list of high-level product deliverables.
  • Project objectives    This is the quantifiable criteria to satisfy in order for the project to be considered successful. Project objectives must include — at a minimum — cost, schedule, and quality measures.

Scope definition

Scope definition involves the project manager subdividing the major project deliverables as identified in the scope statement into smaller, more manageable deliverables. You develop a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) during this phase.

The purpose of developing a WBS is to:

  • Allow easier management of each component.
  • Allow accurate estimation of time, cost, and resource requirements.
  • Make it easier to set a baseline for performance measurement.
  • Allow easier assignment of resources.
  • Allow easier assignment of responsibility for works packages.

The WBS creation involves:

  • The identification of the major components of the work scope. The major components must be in sync with how you will manage the overall project.
  • Deciding if cost, schedule, and quality can be effectively managed at this level of detail. If not, the component needs to be broken down into another level of detail.

Scope verification

Scope verification includes activities such as measuring, examining, and testing the project deliverables. The project deliverables must conform to the requirements in terms of specifications and quantities. Formal acceptance of the deliverables is the objective.

Scope verification is time-consuming and expensive. It is preferable to do it once for each project deliverable. Scope verification is achieved by making sure that your project team understands and complies with the agreed-upon acceptance procedure and that all acceptance documentation is signed by the designated stakeholder. The acceptance process is usually included in the contract document and you must always include it as an agenda item in the project kickoff meeting.

It is not necessary to wait until the end of the project before scope verification activities begin. Scope verification can proceed as soon as a deliverable is complete and can be measured, examined, and tested.

Scope verification also takes place if a contract is terminated before completion. In this situation, the extent of the completed works must be agreed upon, documented, and signed off. This is particularly important if there is the possibility of a dispute.

Scope change control

Scope change control is a process used to:

  • Influence the factors that create scope changes, thereby ensuring that changes and beneficial.
  • Determine that scope change has occurred.
  • Manage the actual changes when and if they occur.

Managing project scope

When projects go over budget or miss milestones, the cause can often be traced back to the scope management phase. In many cases, you will find that taking the time to establish a strong scope management process in the beginning of a project can save you unnecessary problems later on in project development. By taking the time to plan and define the project scope at the beginning of a project, you can see the hurdles before you reach them and to mitigate potential team issues and project costs before they happen.

About the author     Pcubed is a global company that provides program management and project management solutions, as well as services in consulting, outsourcing, technology, and training.

Applies to:
Project 2003