What is project management scope – and how can you use it?

Need to embark on a project and want to ensure its success? Find out how project management scope can help, and how to use it.

Project Scope Management is a process of project management that ensures the scope of a project is defined appropriately to achieve the project’s final results.

The primary objective of the process is to make the project manager’s life easier by allowing them to segregate the tasks according to the priorities and eliminate the unnecessary ones – enabling them to allocate the right work to the right people to get the desired output.

What is scope in project management?

As defined in PMBOK®, ‘project scope’ is, “The work that needs to be accomplished to deliver a product, service, or result with the specified features and functions.”

Basically, the project scope is nothing but a detailed set of deliverables with specific features that are derived from the requirements of the projects.

The two different types of scopes

It is of utmost necessity that the scope is defined clearly. That said, the scope should be either product scope or project scope. Not having the scope distinguished may lead to uncertainty and, obviously, poor results. 

What is product scope?

Product scope consists of the features or characteristics of what exactly a product will look like, how it is going to work, what are its components, and more.

For example, if the product is a cell phone, then the product scope would be its display size, screen size, battery backup, camera features, the size of the memory, etc

According to the PMBOK Guide, sixth edition, product scope is the features and functions that characterize a product, service, or result.

What is project scope?

The project scope concentrates on the different steps that are taken to deliver the final product.

The scope more or less includes elements such as budgets, staff training and allocating, supply chains, etc. It defines the needs and the requirements of the product and the work to create it.

According to the 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 six major processes of project scope

Project scope has six major processes:

  1. Planning – The first and foremost step is to Plan. It describes the work on how will it further be defined, validated and controlled throughout the project lifecycle.
  2. Collecting Requirements – It is the process of defining and documenting stakeholders’ needs to meet the project activities. 
  3. Defining – This process is all about developing a detailed description of the Project and product.
  4. Creating a Work Breakdown Structure(WBS) – The process of dividing project deliverables and project work into more doable components for achieving better output.
  5. Validating –  It’s the process of reviewing deliverables with the customer to make sure that they are completed satisfactorily and receiving formal acceptance of deliverables by the customer.
  6. Controlling – The final process which is controlling is also a part of the monitoring and control process group. 

Why is scope management important for a project manager?

Scope management focuses on avoiding the difficulties that a project might face whenever there are an increasing scope and continuous requirement throughout the life cycle.

Once a project has started, the project scope filters out the necessary features of the project and controls all the aspects mentioned in the project scope. Scope management also institutes control mechanisms to address factors that may result in changes during the project lifecycle.

One of the critical and primary tools to define the importance of scope management is communication with both stakeholders and team members. This process’s ultimate goal is to make sure that it meets the project objectives.

Without scope management, it is tough to estimate the time and cost required for a project. Hence, without proper communication, the project scope can go off the track and affect the entire project, causing losses.

Five steps to determine your project scope

Here are the five steps you need to follow to determine the project scope for your upcoming projects.

1) Gather data and information

The first step is to gather all the relevant data and information for your project. The gathering of the data is to answer the question,” Why are you doing this project?” This particular step should be done carefully, and a fair amount of time should also be invested so that there is no confusion going further.

2) Define the specification/guidelines

Define the project parameters clearly, including a clear objective of the project, tasks, resources, responsibilities, deliverable dates, and budgets. One of the primary purposes of this is to define SMART goals. In this phase, you will focus on the critical questions related to the project.

3) Assign tasks

Don’t randomly assign tasks to your team members. As a manager, you know your team members strengths and capabilities. So assign work to get the best out of them. And make sure you help them to achieve their personal growth goals along with the main project goal.

4) Be very clear about any expectations or results

Have a crystal clear idea about what is expected out of this project. There shouldn’t be any space for ambiguity. Brainstorming with the team members is an excellent idea to stay on the same page.

For example, if a third party vendor is involved in scaling up your efforts in a few departments, then you need to be very clear on what and when do you need and continuously communicate the progress.

5) Monitor

Finally, all you have to do is monitor. Be particular about staying on track and keeping deliverables in the right place Always set clear benchmarks and deadlines so that you will have a clear vision of what the product is going to be.

Photo by Toa Heftiba