Project scope—it’s a moving target and one you want to get a bullseye on before you map out your project management plan. Defined as the sum of all project work, your project scope is the boundary in which your entire project exists.
But the scope of a project it’s not just about work management. To define it, you’ll need to understand the project goals, work breakdown structure, requirements, among other things. Then, once you’ve defined your project scope, you can create a scope statement.
What is a Project Scope Statement?
A scope statement is a document that defines all the elements of the project scope as well as assumptions, project requirements and acceptance criteria. Your project scope statement will act as the primary tool for stakeholders and teammates to refer back to and use as a guideline to accurately measure project success.
A project scope statement is part of the scope management plan, a larger document that contains all the strategies, rules and procedures to manage your project scope. In the same way, the scope management plan is an important component of your project plan.
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Project Scope Template
Use this free Project Scope Template for Word to manage your projects better.
Project Scope Statement Outline
Now that we know what a project scope statement is, let’s learn how to write this important project management document. Similar to the Five W’s of Journalism—Who, What, When, Where, Why—in order to have your project scope statement properly outlined, you must address these seven things:
1. Project Goals & Objectives
Project goals and objectives are what define the purpose of a project. Project objectives are the smaller steps that lead to the project goals, which are broader. Start your project scope statement by explaining them. These goals and objectives should be documented in a project charter too.
2. Project Requirements
Project managers and stakeholders must reach an agreement about the project scope and other project requirements such as the expected quality, risk, benefits and cost, among others.
3. Project Scope Description
It might sound easy enough, but this is the most important step. Here is where you’ll define your project scope, which is all the work that needs to be done to complete the project. Here are some simple steps to help you define the project scope.
- Use a work breakdown structure to visualize all your project tasks, deliverables, and milestones.
- List out what is within the scope of your project, and what is out of scope. Everything that’s not included in the project scope is known as project exclusions.
- Identify project constraints, which are all the limitations such as time or cost.
- Create a scope baseline to compare your actual progress to the planned project scope.
Project exclusions and constraints are very important because they help establish boundaries for the project to exist. They also manage your stakeholders’ expectations/input and give your team members some creative limitations to work within.
4. Project Exclusions
While it’s imperative that you define the boundaries around what the project includes from the outset, it’s also extremely important that you list out what this project does not include. For example:
- Application updates that are planned for a later project and are intentionally not included on this project
- Restricted or rescheduled customer access to certain support lines/product features
5. Project Constraints
Project constraints are what make managing projects such a puzzle to solve. The top three constraints to managing any project are typically time, money and scope, known as the triple constraint of project management. They are interconnected, meaning that if you pull one lever on ‘scope’, another lever on ‘money’ or ‘time’ will also move.
But there are additional project constraints that can crop up at any time, including risk, resources, organization, method, customers and more. List all the constraints you foresee in your project, so you can try to have solutions in place ready to launch when needed.
6. Project Assumptions
Your project assumptions typically revolve around the very things that end up being constraints, including time, money and scope. For example, it’s in this section that you will list out, “the front-end development team will be available during this project time period”, or, “the customer support team will receive new product training by x time.” It’s important to list these out as this will not only tell key stakeholders what your primary resource needs are to make the project go, but it will also give you quick insight as to where your biggest risk factors lie.
7. Project Deliverables
List out the deliverables your team members need to produce in order to meet business objectives. This can include the product itself, instruction and installation manuals, marketing materials, press releases, advertising campaigns and more.
Your project scope statement outline will help act as a marker as you build out your full scope statement. Because while predicting the future of the project is impossible at such a high level, this is the first step to getting your project as close to the outcome as possible. By starting with the seven key statements above, you can get a head start on a successful project.
Gantt charts are the workhorses of scope management. However, most Gantt software is woefully limited in terms of its functionality. ProjectManager has dynamic online Gantt charts that do the regular organizing, prioritizing and linking dependencies and adding milestones. But unlike other tools, you can filter for the critical path. When you set the baseline, you’re able to compare your actual progress to what you had planned. There’s no better way to monitor project scope.
Project Scope Statement Template
Our free project scope template is the perfect tool to create a scope statement for your projects. Simply fill out the fields that we just reviewed above and start managing work.
Project Scope Statement vs. Scope of Work
There are a few things that project scope statements typically get confused with, including your scope of work. They may sound similar, but here are the primary differences between these two.
Your scope of work is an agreement of work, typically between consultant and client, that details the agreement of work to be performed, including, but not limited to:
- Project timeline
- Project milestones
- Reports to catalog project progress
While your scope of work can be time-consuming to write, it outlines the project itself and not necessarily the plan that’s to follow. The project scope statement, in turn, fulfills that role by detailing and mapping out exactly what to expect with the project plan and the project itself.
Project Scope Statement vs. Project Scope Management Plan
They might sound similar, and the outcome of the project may be similar, but a project scope statement is different than your project scope management plan. A project scope management plan is what follows the project scope statement, detailing the scope management process from the start to the finish of your project life cycle.
Additionally, it helps define the work that must be done over the course of the project, and it controls and monitors those processes. It also documents and tracks phases to avoid scope creep, and assists with project closing, including an audit of deliverables and assessing the project outcome for success factors.
Your scope statement isn’t nearly as involved—it’s just the umbrella over your project scope management plan, acting as a rubric for stakeholders and team members to follow.
Best Practices for a Successful Project Scope Statement
Here are the best practices to consider as you write your project scope statement:
- Avoid using jargon-heavy language. You’ll be talking to multiple people across multiple departments and specializations, so keep the language consistent and clear.
- Keep it short. Since this is a document that is seeking stakeholder buy-in, there will likely be plenty of editing to be done before it’s finalized, and it will need to be a quick reference guide for later. So, keep it simple and save the verbiage for your full project plan.
- Stay away from sweeping statements. You don’t want to over-commit your resources on the project before it even kicks off.
- Make sure it answers questions, like:
- What are the long-term business benefits?
- What does it provide our customers that do not already exist?
- Is this better than what we currently offer on the market?
ProjectManager & Project Scope Management
Major project rollouts can be demanding on both your time and energy. Don’t let it overwhelm you before kick-off. For starters, you can use our Gantt chart software to create a WBS and get a visual on deliverables, as well as the tasks needed to complete before submitting your project scope statement.
From there, you can try ProjectManager and use our task management features to get all the necessary tasks organized, prioritized and sorted by project phase. You can even ask other people for input: team members can comment directly on the tasks so communication stays organized and to the point.
Keep tabs on your resources, tasks and deliverables and more so you can keep your project on track. With ProjectManager, you can practice mapping out your project timeline by using our Gantt chart, listing out deliverables using our task list or kanban tool and inviting team members to review the timeline before submitting the scope statement to key stakeholders. Start your free 30-day trial today.