A well-written scope statement is crucial to a project manager's ability to make intelligent decisions during the life cycle of a project. As a project manager, the more information you can gather in the early stages of a project, the more adaptable you can be if you should have to deal with obstacles that might appear during the project.
You create a project scope statement to establish a solid agreement between the project team and the customer by clarifying, identifying, and relating the work of the project to the business owner's objectives. The two parties reach an agreement by explaining the need or issue to be resolved by the project, what the product or deliverables will include, and what potential costs, gains, and success measures are involved.
Writing a scope statement
Writing a successful scope statement means that you include directly, or by reference, other documents, including your:
- Project justification
- Project product
- Project deliverables
- Project objectives
For more information about scope statements, see the "Scope statement template" in the More information section at the end of this article.
Note You should have the scope statement reviewed and approved by the both the project sponsor and the customer. You should not include any confidential information. For example, remove the budgeted costs from your supplier in the customer's version of the scope statement.
To write a scope statement, include the following criteria:
1. The project justification information
The project justification describes a problem to be resolved, an opportunity to be exploited, or a benefit to be obtained. You always derive the project justification from the strategic objectives of the parent organization. The following are examples of project justification:
- Market demand
- Business need
- Customer request
- Technological advance
- Legal requirement
The project justification needs to be be clear and precise, and you should include both qualitative and quantitative measures. After the project is started, its justification becomes the basis for evaluating future trade-offs and a powerful source of motivation for your stakeholders (as the project is seen as benefiting the business).
2. Identify the project product
Define possible solutions to your problem (for example, the project justification); specifically, identify the solution that you selected for your project. The project product is a summary of the product description and includes:
- Work required to resolve the problem and achieve the benefits.
- Work that falls outside the project scope.
- Interactions with other projects.
It is crucial that you identify work that might fall outside the project scope as well as how the project work might interact with other projects. Identifying the exclusions is important because it enables you to set expectations with your customer and project team.
Note If you clearly identify exclusions at the beginning of a project, future projects are more easily identified.
3. Identify the project deliverables
List the summary-level subproducts of the project for which full and satisfactory delivery would mark the completion of the project. These include the project deliverables and the high-level Work Breakdown Structure (WBS).
For more information about the WBS, see the "Work Breakdown Structure template" in the More information section at the end of this article.
Rather than breaking the work of the project into a list of low-level deliverables and details, identify high-level deliverables so that project reviewers can readily focus on the business problems that the project is trying to resolve.
4. Identify the project objectives
Identify project objectives that you can define as quantifiable criteria. Include cost, schedule, and quality measures. Project objectives should have an attribute (for example, cost), a yardstick (for example, U.S. dollars), and an absolute or relative value (for example, less than 1.5 million).
The project objectives must:
- Address all the work within the scope of the project.
- Not address work outside the scope of the project.
Note Unquantifiable objectives, such as customer satisfaction, involve high risk.
Use the scope statement to your advantage
A comprehensive scope statement is a key document that binds you, your project team, the project sponsor, and the customer. It is an agreement that defines the work of the project and the customer's business objectives. A comprehensive scope statement can help you identify changes in scope after the project has started and help you plan for any modifications or adjustments that might be needed during the life cycle of the project.
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.