Project Scope Management

The scope of a project spells out all the tasks that must be accomplished to achieve successful completion. Without determining this, it is near impossible to manage a project effectively. Project scope management is, therefore, an indispensable part of any project.

Project scope management is a primary responsibility of a Project Manager to ensure its successful implementation. It outlines the purpose, objectives, and deliverables of the project and sets expectations for all stakeholders involved. It also serves as a reference document for both the client and service provider to ensure that all parties are on the same page throughout the project.1

Scope management emphasizes completing only the required project tasks for success. It is important to withdraw from additional deliverables that are not part of the project scope.

Project Scope Management Process

Crafting a project scope management plan requires following six essential steps for its successful implementation.

6 Steps of Scope Management

Establishing the project scope sets the boundaries of a project and helps establish limits on what deliverables will be included or excluded. Furthermore, it allows the project team to devise an effective plan to ensure that tasks are successfully completed.

When developing a scope of work, it is important to consider all aspects of the project including timelines, costs, deliverables, quality control measures, and any other requirements needed for successful completion. This will help ensure that everyone involved in the project is aware of their responsibilities and that no details are overlooked. By having a well-defined scope of work in place from the beginning, it will be easier to identify potential issues before they become problems and keep projects on track.

Step 1 – Create the scope plan

Expert input from stakeholders is essential when outlining the scope of a project. Starting a project from scratch can be challenging for project managers. They may find it hard to identify the right starting point and how to approach the task.

Some helpful ideas for making a viable scope plan:

Allocate Time for Scope Creation Process: From personal experience, I agree that the process of creating the scope plan is complex and requires great attention to detail. Subsequently, set aside adequate time for developing the scope plan. Skipping this step can be more costly than expected.

Leverage the knowledge of experts: To ensure your scope planning document is complete, consider all elements of the organizational procedure. Doing so will provide a comprehensive understanding of the project and help address any potential issues that could arise. Furthermore, to gain approval from key stakeholders, involve them in the discussion surrounding the scope document. Doing so will ensure everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goal.3

Step 2 – Collect Requirements

During this stage, it is essential to get a detailed list of requirements from stakeholders. This will help ensure the project remains focused on achieving the project objectives. As a project manager, it is important to plan check-ins with the client, determine the tasks they need to know and figure out the necessary communication format.4

Some helpful ideas for collecting requirements:

Focus groups to uncover requirements: Focus groups offer a great opportunity to delve deep into research with an eye on revealing important details or requirements. They’re a great way to gain insight and information that may not be surface level. For projects requiring a large, multifaceted approach, it’s beneficial to hold several focus groups with the different stakeholders. This helps to ensure the greatest possible involvement with the project.

Step 3 – Define the Scope

The project scope statement is a key document, detailing all the requirements that are necessary for successful completion. It clearly outlines what is “In-Scope” and “Out-of-Scope” and serves as a great reference for the project team. Creating a scope statement is an essential part of any project, as it serves as the blueprint for all related activities. By and large, it plays a major role in organizing and carrying out all project tasks.

Some helpful ideas to help define the scope:

Use clear language: Clear language is a powerful tool for effective communication. It eliminates any potential misinterpretations and ensures that everyone involved has the same understanding. Through its use, complex concepts are simplified, making it easier to understand and remember. Overall, the use of clear language avoids misunderstandings, guaranteeing communication is successful.

Assumptions become your risk: Defining the scope precisely means generating assumptions and getting all stakeholders on board with them. Communication and comprehension of these assumptions is essential for ensuring success. Risk is an inherent part of any project, so it’s essential to be aware of the correlation between risk and assumptions when you narrow down the project scope. Evaluating potential risks related to assumptions is an important step for a successful outcome.

Step 4 – Create Work Breakdown Structure

Constructing the work breakdown structure requires an understanding of project scope and requirements. This enables you to break down the whole project into smaller chunks and have specific deliverables identified. Consider the WBS as a guide that accounts for all tasks during a project.5

Some helpful ideas to help create the work breakdown structure:

Divide the work in the manageable buckets: Upon completing the scope the next step involves dividing the work into manageable buckets. Importantly, this will help ensure the project is simple and easy to understand at a quick glance.

Engage with the wider team: When developing the WBS be sure to involve the entire team. Ignoring any important element during this process could put your project schedule in jeopardy.

Step 5 – Validate Scope

A critical step in this process is to gain the client or project owner’s endorsement and approval of the scope. To do this, dedicate significant effort towards validating the scope by testing it against the recently gathered requirements.6

Some helpful ideas to help validate the scope:

Verify and validate the scope: Before officially signing off on the scope of a project, it’s always beneficial to run it by other team members to get their feedback. This helps identify issues and address them quickly. Moreover, examine the scope rigorously to ensure all assumptions and requirements are valid. Furthermore, both in-scope and out-of-scope deliverables need to be verified for correctness.

Step 6 – Control Scope

The last step is controlling the scope. All changes are monitored against the specified scope baseline to make sure a thorough assessment is done before being implemented. With this level of oversight, you can be sure that proper attention is given when making any changes.

Some helpful ideas to help control the scope:

Establish a change management process:  Anticipate that there will be change to the project and make sure you are ready for it. Given that it’s best practice to prepare for any unexpected modifications that may come. Certainly, change management minimizes the chances of scope creep and helps in managing stakeholder expectations. Therefore, it is an essential component for the success of the project.7

Project Scope Management Challenges

Scope Creep: When the project experiences change due to poorly defined project goals and requirements, this is often based on the assumption that the newly requested work was assumed to be included from the start.2 A great example of scope creep is when a stakeholder adds an extra project deliverable once the project has already begun.

Understand the process: It is essential to inform your stakeholders about the significance of the scope and any changes made to it at the earliest possible time. This will help you ensure that all parties involved are on the same page and progress happens as expected. 

Simple Communications: Stakeholders may not be familiar with the specific terms and definitions that project managers use, so it is important to simplify communication for everyone. Moreover, it is possible to create visual aids that could help to make communication concerning scope and change control simpler. These tools can contribute greatly towards streamlining the process.8

Conclusion – Project Scope Management

The project scope is a blueprint for any successful project.

Defining the project scope is essential for proper management. Project scope management is something that a project manager should take charge of for it to carry out effectively. Thus, without this step, a successful execution becomes impossible.

To formulate an effective project scope management plan, follow the six specific steps. By following these steps carefully, project managers can ensure projects are completed on time and within budget while meeting all the expectations set out in the scope statement.

During project initiation, one needs to be cognizant of scope creep that can lead to harmful consequences on the project. Fittingly, proper surveillance of a project from the start is essential for successful completion.

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Project Communication – A Good Project Communication Plan is Essential

Risk Management Process – Tips for Managing Project Risk


1 / 6 – Qais Hashil Salim Al-Rubaiei, Faizatul Akmar Abdul Nifa, Suria Musa Research Article | September 26 2018 Project Scope Management Through Multiple Perspectives: A Critical Review of Concepts

2 – Imed Bouchrika, Phd, Research Article MAR 16, 2023, How to Write a Scope of Work: Examples & Templates

3 – Asana – November 15, 2022, Scope management plan: What is it and how to create one

4 – Adobe Communications Team March 18, 2022,

5 – Wrike – FAQ Project Management Guide – What is Work Breakdown Structure in Project Management

7. 8 – Millhollan, C. (2008). Scope change control: control your projects or your projects will control you! Paper presented at PMI® Global Congress 2008—North America, Denver, CO. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.