Scope is the most important information which needs to be understood very clearly for any project. A well-defined and detailed project scope will form the basis for estimating the resource, duration and cost of the project with higher accuracy. Well defined scope will also enable the team to execute the project successfully meeting all requirements. Once scope is defined, any uncontrolled change in scope will be detrimental to smooth project management.
Project scope needs to be defined unambiguously and without any error. In order to understand project scope really well, it is important to differentiate between the following terms:
Every new project is undertaken to fulfil new needs and requirements. Once the new need is established, then the need is translated into a well-defined project objective. The project objective is established during the project initiation stage. This gives a high level idea of the project scope. The objective is then further elaborated into detailed project requirements which are collected from stakeholders of the project. The project requirements once understood is used to define the project scope and product scope.
In this way, project scope gets progressively elaborated. We can define scope as below:
Product Scope – Product scope is all the features and functionalities of the final product to be produced from the project. Product scope is all about the product requirements. This is understood from the project requirements collected from the stakeholders. Completion of product scope is measured against product requirements.
Project Scope – Project scope is all the work that needs to be done to create the product with the agreed product scope. Project scope is all about the activities to be done. Project scope will be defined by the project team members who have enough knowledge about how to create the product. Completion of project scope is measured against the project plan.
The team creates project scope statement and subsequently a work breakdown structure to establish the project scope clearly.
Project Scope Statement establishes the common understanding about the project work between the customer and the project team. According to the PMBOK guideline, a project scope statement will contain the following information to make it look meaningful.
The project scope statement identifies the major project deliverables. The major deliverables are further decomposed into smaller and more manageable components. A work breakdown structure identifies the major deliverables as smaller work packages. Work packages capture the entire project scope in sufficient details. Work packages help in reliable estimation, clear roles and responsibilities assignment, better monitoring of project work.
Project scope is the most fundamental aspect of a project which needs to be well elaborated without any ambiguity. Scope becomes the basis for estimating the project timelines and project cost. Once the project scope is defined and agreed, any change after that will impact the agreed project time and cost. Hence any change to project scope must be done through formal change request. A structured project scope statement and work breakdown structure are used for capturing the scope clearly.
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