How to define and create a project scope? Examples & tips 

Missed deadlines, forgotten tasks, delayed objectives are the nightmare of every project manager in the world. Some may say they are a result of mistakes in planning, but very few wonder why the mistakes are there in the first place. The key to the answer to this question lies in project scope. 

Arkadiusz Terpiłowski

Co-Founder

Project Management

14/11/2022

What is project scope and how to create it? Guide & examples

Table of contents

Project scope management - key takeaways

After reading this article, you should be able to: 

  • define project scope and all its elements, 
  • follow all the consecutive steps in the process of creating a project scope and create such a document for your own projects, 
  • manage the process while it evolves later on. 

What is a project scope? Definition

Project scope is an outline of all the activities needed to be done to complete a project. Usually it includes all the tasks, resources, project timelines, deliverables and general boundaries. It also specifies the main stakeholders and other people responsible for its consecutive parts. The file that includes all the information is called a scope statement or a project scope document.

What is included in a scope statement? 

In general, scope statement should include: 

  • project goals, including the main requirements and acceptance criteria, 
  • project deliverables and main project milestones
  • any exclusions and constraints that apply to the project or its parts. That includes the things that cannot be done on the provider's part - the customer is not the only person who can limit the project! 
  • initial ideas - general assumptions used as the basis for the project. They should provide the project team with a better understanding of their objectives. 

As a result, the scope helps organize the management process and its elements, such as milestones, resources, and project planning.

Why is the project scope statement so important? 

It is easy to assume that the project scope statement is yet another pointless document cluttering the project manager’s desk. However, this statement couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Scope statement is a backbone of the project success and ensures that the company really has what it takes to impress the customer. For example, it gives project managers an idea: 

  • whether the project can be completed in a given company in general, 
  • what a roadmap of the project would look like, and what resources are needed to complete it in a timely manner, 
  • what are the customer’s requirements and limitations, 
  • what should not be included in a project, no matter how it will progress, 
  • who are the stakeholders on both sides of the endeavor. 

As a result, the project scope document helps you create a better project schedule, avoid limitless expansion of the responsibilities and clearly communicate with the customer from day 1. 

How to define project scope? Step by step guide

While the whole idea of a project scope may sound simple, it does contain numerous key factors that simply cannot be missed - especially in project management. That is why defining the scope of work, project objectives, project requirements and project goals may not be the simplest task. Let’s see how to create a project scope statement without omitting them. 

1. Define the main project goal

The project goal in the project management should shortly summarize the final result of the project. It can usually be described in just one sentence, for example: The objective of this project is to create a website for X company. This goal will remain unchanged regardless of the circumstances. 

2. Define project requirements and constraints

After choosing the main objective, try to divide the project into smaller pieces - stages, tasks or project milestones ensuring the success of the entire operation. If possible, assess how much time is needed to complete each of those steps - that estimation will later be useful for the resource planning process

Examples of estimates for project scope in Primetric
An example of estimates in Primetric. Later on, the system uses them to calculate the costs of work in the project. 

Then, discuss the proposed project life cycle with the stakeholders on the company’s site and define their requirements for each of the smaller pieces. Focus both on the general ideas and small details that can affect your project. For example, discuss the features that should be included in the solution, security measures, technologies, and budget. 

Having done that, move on to the part of the project that the customer does not wish to see or experience in his project life cycle. That usually includes: exceeded budget, time constraints, technologies or redundant features. 

3. Define main deliverables

After you have determined what to do and what to avoid, you can try to put all of the operations in the project on the timeline and identify their dependencies - all while keeping in mind the duration of consecutive stages of the project. 

At this point, you should also try to predict any risks of delays in different deliverables. If possible, try to schedule some more time for the tasks that may be difficult to complete - you will save your customers lots of disappointment. 

4. Prepare a resource plan 

Using the information you have gathered in a previous step, you can now assign people to the project. By doing so, you will ensure that your company really has what it takes to complete the operation on time, and you will help your project team manage their part of the project by presenting them with a statement of work to be done.

However, we do not recommend resource planning in Jira, as the tool does not provide neither project managers nor team members with a bigger picture. The best way to forecast resources is to create allocations in a Gantt chart that allows for dragging and dropping each assignment - just like shown on a Primetric screenshot below. 

Allocations in Primetric's project scope can be extended by dragging and dropping fields.
Extending a project allocation in Primetric project calendar with Gantt chart 

5. Confirm the scope of a project and create acceptance criteria

After you have finished analyzing the project for the internal purposes, you can now go back to the customer with your findings to accept the outline you have created. Confirm that the scope of a project includes all the requirements and details the customers want to include in the project. Finally, determine what he really needs to accept the work by the end of the project and include that information in the final paragraph of the document.

Project scope example & template

Enough theory - it’s time to skip to the practical site of the scope management. 

In general, a scope of the project is a Microsoft Word document that closely resembles a typical essay. It is divided into several sections that describe key factors needed for the endeavor to succeed. Here’s a an example of defining project scope you can later use as a template for your own operations and project management.

Introduction

The X project commissioned by The Customer Company Name represented by The Manager’s Name is being undertaken for the purpose of creating a dedicated website with a store for the Customer’s Online Store. 

Main project's scope

The main objective of this project is to create a fully functional website with an online store capable of supporting extensive traffic. The operation will include: 

  • researching the competitor’s websites and presenting the customer with the findings,
  • creating both front and back end for the website, 
  • designing the website using the best UX/UI practices, 
  • implementing the latest security protocols on the website, 
  • preparing the necessary technical means and launching the website. 

All these activities will be supervised by Our Manager representing The Best Company. 

The project should take no more than 6 months, and it should be finished by the end of December 2023. 

Project deliverables 

Based on the project's scope, we have determined that the main project deliverables will include: 

  • the report presenting the results of competitor analysis delivered to the Customer Company Name within 7 days of starting the project, 
  • backend for the website, created in 3 months after the results of the report have been accepted, 
  • frontend for the website, created 3 months after the results of the report have been accepted…

Project exclusions 

The project will not include further maintenance of the websites or any further updates to its code. 

Project constraints

Project may include some changes to the scope, provided the won’t impact its main objective. The project must under no circumstances exceed the project budget.

Project acceptance criteria 

The Manager’s Name representing the Customer Company Name will only review and accept the project if he will be provided with: 

  • an access data for the website, 
  • a fully functional website with all the features specified above, 
  • security certificates, 
  • information on the maintenance and subscriptions required for the website to operate properly. 

Can the project scope change later on? 

Project scope management does not end when the scope of the project is sent to all the team members and other key stakeholders inlcuded in the project. While project scope should be as close to the final project timeline as possible, there’s no denying that in some cases it may change - that’s when a scope creep occurs. 

What is a scope creep? 

Scope creep happens when deliverables, tasks or requirements change when the project is underway For example, whenever a stakeholder announces that he forgot to add a feature to the project, your scope creeps a little bit in the wrong direction. This is often an inevitable part of both project management and project scope management as a whole.

Unfortunately, scope creep can be very harmful for the project, as it usually causes its delays and disorganizes the work as a whole. Therefore, it should be avoided at all costs - mostly by interviewing the relevant stakeholders as much as possible and discussing every smallest detail of the project with them. 

However, should you feel that something is missing from your project scope, try to leave some room for error while making the allocations - that is also a part of scope management. In that way, you will ensure that your team has enough time to act whenever a new issue arises. 

How to succeed at project scope management? 

Project scope is a critical document that has a significant impact on the entire project. Any mistakes made during its creation may take a toll on the success of your operations. Here’s how to avoid them. 

  1. Identify deliverables and dependencies that may put your project at risk. That applies to both the operations that may simply last longer, as well as those which may expand as your team delves into their details. 
  2. Focus on the customer. Try to extract as much information as you can from the stakeholders; ask questions and discuss tasks in detail whenever possible. Try not to omit any matter while doing so! 
  3. Gain approval for your ideas. Before you start working, go through the project scope with the customer and make sure he understands its implications. Any hesitation should be met with additional questions! 
  4. Determine how changes will affect the project. If you feel like things are likely to go sideways, check how the changes will affect the state of the project. Try to prepare for this scenario - make a room for error or find someone who can help your team members complete their deliverables on time. 

Do you want to know more about project management? 

Look no further! 

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Or, if you feel like you need a professional tool to handle the entire process, simply book a demo with our advisors or start a trial right now! 


Arkadiusz Terpiłowski

Co-Founder

Arkadiusz is Head of Growth and Co-founder at Primetric. Prior to that, Arkadiusz was at the helm of his own software development company where he oversaw operations. A great enthusiast of process improvements, his personal mission is to make software companies more profitable and efficient on their path to growth.

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