Project Scope Management
In today’s fast-paced, modern workplace, work is increasingly completed and managed digitally and remotely, with communication spread across multiple mediums. In the midst of all this chaos, it is imperative to have an effective project scope management plan in place.
But what is project scope management — and why is it so important to diverse teams and projects?
Table of Contents
- What is scope management?
- The importance of project scope management.
- Steps of project scope management.
- Tips for project scope management.
- Implementing project scope management processes.
- Frequently asked questions.
What is scope management?
Project scope management is the process that defines and outlines all of the work that is included within a project, including its:
It’s an essential part of the project planning process and clearly determines what you and your team will need to do in order to deliver a product, service, or result with specified functions and features. It includes everything that must go into a project, as well as what defines its success.
Without a comprehensive scope management plan, there’s a good chance your team is doing work that’s unnecessary to complete the project at hand or even wasting time thinking about what they should be doing next.
The importance of project scope management.
The project scoping process is essential to keeping your work on track, regardless of setbacks, variables and ad hoc requests that may impact the process.
For example, many of us may start a project with a clear plan, but influential stakeholders, clients and colleagues may have a different idea of what success looks like. What’s more, business priorities can shift throughout the course of a project and throw it off course.
A solid scope management process can help you strike the right balance between outcomes, expectations and business priorities. It helps you keep discipline in your project and ensure it stays true to its initial concept.
By learning how to manage project scope effectively, you can:
- Ensure your project sticks to deadline, budget and specification.
- Avoid scope creep, when your project swerves outside of its agreed parameters.
- Decide on what is and isn’t needed for your project in advance.
- Identify elements of your project that may be subject to change.
Steps of project scope management.
To help you get your team working on more of the right work, here’s a step-by-step guide to some key project scope management processes.
1. Plan Your Scope.
When you start project planning, you want to gather input from all of the project stakeholders. This stakeholder management stage is essential, as together you will decide and document how you want to define, manage, validate, and control your project scope.
The scope management plan also includes information on how you will:
- Handle unforeseen circumstances – You can outline how you will deal with ad-hoc projects throughout, including how resource will be allocated and timelines amended.
- Accept project deliverables – How agreed deliverables will be accepted and processed by your team – outlining roles and responsibilities for who is handling this.
- Come up with other key elements – How you will come up with some of the other key elements, including a work breakdown structure (WBS) and a scope statement.
2. Get a handle on your requirements management.
This process will give you a clear idea of what your stakeholders want and how you’re going to manage their expectations. You will need to document exactly what is required in terms of status updates.
Think about how often:
- Check-ins are needed with the client
- The client wants to be informed of deliverable status
- Communications need to be sent and in what format
This information can be gathered through focus groups, interviews, or surveys, and by creating prototypes. Use our requirements management process to help you avoid frustrating hurdles throughout the project and understand the differences between scope, requirements and expectations.
3. Define Your Scope.
With your project scope in place, you’re ready to define exactly what is in and out of scope for your project with a project scope statement. This serves as a guide throughout the project and forms the backbone of your project scoping process.
Team members should be able to refer to it, and easily be reminded of what is and is not involved in that specific job. This is also helpful when someone is asked to work on an area that is outside of a project’s scope.
Scope statements often include:
- Justification. Why is the project happening in the first place?
- Goals. What are you seeking to achieve?
- Deliverables. A breakdown of deliverables and who will be responsible for them.
- Expected results. When the project is complete, what will change? Think about your original justification here and back it up with projections and data.
- Assumptions. What are you relying on to make your project happen? Consider availability of teams, budgets, materials, training etc.
- Inclusions and exclusions. Finally, what is in and out of the scope of your project? It’s good to drill down into specifics here.
4. Create a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS).
Based on your project scope statement and the documents created during requirements collection, you’ll want to build a Work Breakdown Structure, which is essentially the entire project broken down into smaller individual tasks.
Deliverables are clearly defined, providing the project manager and the team with several more manageable units of work. A streamlined operational system of record makes creating a WBS simple.
In Workfront’s enterprise work management platform, for instance, it’s easy to standardize and automate forms, tasks, and workflows. Your team can work faster and more efficiently, knowing they are working on the correct tasks, in order to complete a project.
5. Validate Your Scope.
This is where your deliverables are reviewed by whoever needs to approve them, whether it be:
- All three
It’s important to have a plan in place for exactly how project deliverables will be accepted as complete. At the end of this process, you’ll accept deliverables, change requests, or project document updates.
With an operational system of record, you’re able to set up the scope validation process ahead of time so that each deliverable is automatically submitted for approval by whoever needs to see it.
You can skip the long, confusing email chains and avoid unnecessary meetings. While stakeholders can see completed tasks for a project all in one place and be immediately notified when a task is awaiting approval.
6. Control Your Scope.
Monitoring and controlling is essential throughout the project. A project’s status should be monitored from start to finish to ensure that it is being executed according to your project scope management plan.
You never know when the scope may need to change, or a customer may add new requirements. In order to prevent scope creep, project managers should compare performance reports with the project requirements. Using Workfront, any gaps will be easy to spot and change, quickly getting the project back on track.
Tips for project scope management.
- Be as clear as possible when wording your scope. Once it has been drafted, re-read it to ensure there is no ambiguity anywhere. This can help avoid misinterpretations by stakeholders and reduce follow-up questions.
- Invite as many team members as possible to collaborate during the drafting stage. If more people are contributing, a greater number of team members will know exactly what is required from the project.
- Ensure there are zero alterations to the scope once the project has begun. Making amends can muddy the waters a little and potentially lead to things like increased scope and confusion among those working on the project.
Implementing project scope management processes.
Implementing these project scope management processes takes a fair amount of time and effort. But in the long run, they will save you time, money, and headaches.
A good scope management plan involves open communication between all the stakeholders and team members involved in a project. This results in fewer unwelcome surprises and miscommunications throughout.
Everyone knows and understands exactly what work is involved and can easily stay focused on the right deliverables.
Take a tour of the Adobe Workfront solution to discover how planning your scope can be made easier today.
Frequently asked questions.
What is the scope definition in project management?
In project management, scope refers to the outcomes, benefits and deliverables of a project and what is required to achieve them. Defining this in advance is important, as your project can go off-track without clear boundaries and original goals and objectives may not be met.
Who defines project scope?
A project manager, with input from key stakeholders, is usually responsible for defining project scope. Stakeholder needs are often a key influence on the scope of a project.
It is often the project manager’s job to factor in the human and financial resources they need to meet these requirements.
What is meant by ‘in scope’?
If something is ‘in scope’, it simply falls within the parameters of the project’s scope. ‘Out of scope’ means the opposite, covering something that is not outlined in the project’s original intentions.