Project Scope management – an overview

Even before you start with the project, the first activity that you must perform is to define the scope of the project. Managing the scope is an activity of the project management, which has two aspects – the scope of the project and the scope of the product. Scope management as a whole defines the process of collecting information to start a project and define the features of the product that would meet the stakeholder requirements.

According to the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge guide (PMBOK Guide) published by the Project Management Institute, the scope of the project is defined as the work you need to accomplish to deliver a product, service, or result with specified features and functions. However, the PMBOK guide defines the product scope as the features and functions that characterize a product, service, or result.

The definitions of project scope and product scope distinctly indicate that while project scope is completely work oriented and completely focused on the tasks that you must perform to accomplish the goal; the product scope is more oriented towards the functionality of the product. To simplify the understanding, the project scope is the “How” part of the overall scope management while the product management is the “What” part of the scope management.

Now the big question raises is that why do you need scope management as an individual activity of the project management. Well, the scope forms the backbone of the project and is something that is capable of making or breaking the entire project. It is typical of a project that if you do not finalize the scope of the project and product, you might keep getting request to make changes to the project. This not only adds to the rework in the software product, but also adds to the dissatisfaction and demotivation of the team, especially when changes are too many and very frequent.

For an enterprise software project, the number of stakeholder is very large, which includes management, customers, sales and support teams being some of them. As a result, every team has its own set of requirements and tries to push their requirement as a priority. It is the responsibility of the project manager to manage and finalize the scope, ensuring the all stakeholders are on the same page.

Even though it is assumed that the scope of the project is finalized in the beginning of the project life cycle itself, it is not the situation in the real life. In real life projects, there are high chances that the project requirements might change over a period of time. This could be because of the varied reasons, products from the competition is one of the main reason to push such changes. Politico business requirements also play an important role in requests for changes in scope. Therefore, it is very important for you to plan how to handle any requests in the change in the scope of the project.

To manage the scope of the project, you must perform the following activities before you finalize the scope:

  • Determine the requirements: To come up with the solution, the first requirement is to understand the problem statement. Therefore, you must make sure that you understand requirements of all the stakeholders, and then map these requirements to the business need of the project as described in the project charter. You must weed out the seemingly and projected to be important requirements depending to the business needs of the project.
  • Define the scope of the project: After understanding the requirements and mapping the same to the business requirements of the project, you must define the scope of the project. The project must exclusively state the inclusive and exclusive items of the project scope.
  • Create a work breakdown structure: Work breakdown structure (WBS) is the process of breaking the scope of the project to smallest manageable pieces of tasks.
  • Verify the scope: You must verify that the work being done is according to the planned scope of the work.
  • Measure the performance: Make sure that you measure the performance of the project according to the scope of the project at regular intervals. If needed, adjust the scope to accommodate the additional work required.