Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

Defining the work scope


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The scope statement essentially covers the project justification, the project product, the project deliverables; and the project objectives.

A project justification or purpose is simply an explanation from the client group of why the project is being undertaken. This justification is critical for it forms the basis for making management decisions in relation to costs, schedule trade-offs and technical decisions in relation to performance liability trade-offs during this phase.

The project product is the overall outcome of the project, and is broken down into smaller deliverables for ease of management. Project deliverables should identify the major summary level items whose full and complete delivery marks the completion of the project. These items will be defined in more detail in the work breakdown structure. At this summary level, each deliverable should have clearly- defined completion criteria.

The project objectives should list additional measures that must be met for the project to be deemed successful. The PMBOK suggest that project objectives should have an attribute (e.g. costs), a yardstick (e.g. monetary unit) and a measure (e.g. 1.5 million). It also notes that unquantified objectives entail high risk. The process best ensures that the following takes place:

  • that project work is structured and subdivided into manageable elements or packages
  • that responsibility for accomplishment of each element or package of work is assigned and adequately defined to facilitate communication and implementation of the scope by the project teams.

Utilisation of a work breakdown structure assures that all work is identified and defined within a common framework. The adequate and appropriate documentation, including approvals by the client group, of the scope baseline before proceeding with subsequent phases of a project, should be mandatory as it provides a firm basis for making future decisions, verifying measurable outcomes, and evaluating potential scope changes.

The relationship between poor scope definition and the tendency for project scope to increase (scope creep) and for stakeholders to demand or suggest changes in scope is quite clear. A poorly-defined scope does not provide a clear baseline against which such changes may be evaluated as being either changes within, or outside of, the approved scope which may be established by defining either:

  • the actual work content of the project (but not the project achievements or outputs), i.e. a method type specification, or
  • the outputs to be achieved (but not the work content or methodologies), i.e. a performance type specification.