Project scope—it’s a moving target and one you want to get a bullseye on before you map out your project. Defined as the sum of all resources, deliverables, features, and tasks within a given project, your project scope is the boundary in which your entire project exists. But to even begin to define that, you’ll need to dive a little deeper and outline the project scope to better define the business objectives, deliverables and more in order to get buy-in from key stakeholders.
This is your Project Scope Statement, and much like a Scope of Work (SOW), it exists to reinforce your project scope for all participating parties.
What is a Project Scope Statement?
Typically written by the project manager, a scope statement outlines the entire project, including any deliverables and their features, as well as a list of stakeholders who will be affected. It will also include any major project objectives, deliverables and goals to help measure success.
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.
Project Scope Statement Outline
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:
No project starts without a need already existing, so use that as your justification. Start your project scope statement by explaining the need for your project, and how the end result will solve that need.
Examples of needs can include:
- A competitor has come out with a new product that currently has no market competition
- Customer feedback has been asking for a new tool to include in your product
- An opportunity for vertical integration/recurring revenue has introduced itself
2. Scope description
It might sound easy enough, but this is one of the more important steps. From a high-level, list out what is within the scope of your project, and what is out of scope. This will help establish boundaries for the project to exist. It also manages your stakeholders’ expectations/input, and gives your team members some creative limitations to work within.
3. Business objectives
Outline your business objectives by defining the targets your business hopes to achieve with this project. This can include product launch goal dates, a new business model to generate a higher rate of recurring revenue, higher customer satisfaction, increase first-time buyers and others.
4. 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.
5. 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
Project constraints are what make managing projects such a puzzle to solve. The top three constraints—or the Triple Constraint—to managing any project is typically time, money and scope. 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.
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.
Your project scope statement outline will help act as markers 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.
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 your project from start to finish.
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 does not already exist?
- Is this better than what we currently offer on the market?
How ProjectManager.com Can Help With Your Project Scope Statement
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 free work breakdown structure template 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.com 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.
Related: Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) Guide
Keep tabs on your resources, tasks and deliverables and more so you can keep your project on track. With ProjectManager.com, you can practice mapping out your project timeline by using our Gantt chart, list out deliverables using our task list or kanban tool and invite team members to review the timeline before submitting the scope statement to key stakeholders. Start your free 30-day trial today.