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What is Scope in Project Management? Definition and Importance

Understanding Scope in Project Management

Project management scope is a critical aspect of managing any project. It is a crucial detail that must be discussed well in advance because it ensures that the project covers everything that is needed and does not waste time or resources on areas of the project that aren’t necessary. It also prevents scope creep.

This article will answer the question, “What is scope in project management?” So, get ready to learn more about our project management scope definition, how to prevent scope creep, and best practices for defining the scope for any project. Also, we will share a way for you to gain certification in project management.

What is Scope in Project Management?

Scope in project management refers to the boundaries and limits of a project. It defines what work is included in the project and what work is not. A scope project management statement is a document that outlines the project’s goals, objectives, deliverables, tasks, and deadlines. It clarifies to all the stakeholders involved in the project what they can expect. It is essential to clearly define the scope of a project before starting it because it sets the foundation for the project plan and helps avoid scope creep.

Project Management Scope Planning and Definition

Scope planning is the process of defining all the goals and objectives of your project and deciding on all of the specific deliverables that will be produced. Start by outlining the vision and goals of the project. What is it that your project is supposed to accomplish? What are the outcomes the project needs to have to be considered successful? What is your project’s “why”? With this information, you can start breaking down your goals into manageable tasks and identifying what resources you need to accomplish the tasks.

Also, be sure your scope is clearly defined and agreed on by all stakeholders. Decide what is not included in the project scope. This step is essential to prevent scope creep, leading to delays, increased costs, and stakeholder dissatisfaction.\

Also Read: Understanding Project Management: A Comprehensive Guide

Key Elements of Project Management Scope

There are a variety of essential elements that you should always include in your project scope to ensure that it is thorough and complete. These include:

  • Project objectives – Clarifying the desired outcomes and goals.
  • Deliverables – Identifying the tangible results of the project.
  • Inclusions and exclusions – Defining what is and is not included in the project scope.
  • Assumptions and constraints – Recognizing the factors that impact the project scope.

Scope Change Management

Scope changes are inevitable in any project. As a project progresses, changes in the scope may arise due to changing customer needs, evolving market conditions, or changes in regulations, among other factors.

Scope change management is the process of controlling and managing changes to your project’s scope. It should outline the steps to take when a change request is made. Effective scope change management requires the project manager and other stakeholders to analyze every change request to determine its impact on your timeline, budget, and resources.

If the effect of the change is significant and likely to cause delays or additional costs, then a formal evaluation and decision-making process must be implemented. The process must also involve communicating necessary changes to all stakeholders to ensure everyone understands the impact of such changes.

Project Management Scope Creep and Its Impact

We can’t answer “What is scope in project management?” without addressing scope creep. Scope creep is a common problem in project management that occurs when changes are made to a project’s original scope. This can significantly impact how long a project takes to complete and its associated costs. For instance, if a software development team agrees to build a mobile app with two modules for a client in six months, a request to add a third module will add time and costs to the project. It also goes against what the software company agreed to provide. By monitoring changes to project scope, you can significantly reduce the incidence of scope creep and ensure the successful delivery of your projects.

Also Read: Project Management Risks to Watch For

What is Scope in Project Management? Scope Verification and Control

Scope verification means validating that project deliverables meet the defined scope. If the agreed-upon project deliverables are not aligned with your project’s scope, this can lead to scope creep. Fortunately, you can prevent scope creep by monitoring and controlling scope changes.

Tools and Techniques for Scope Management

Some of the tools and techniques that can help with scope management include:

  • Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) – Can help organize project tasks and deliverables.
  • Scope Statements – Create clear and concise scope documentation for all stakeholders.
  • Change Control Boards – Establish and maintain processes for reviewing and approving scope changes.

You can learn these tools and techniques in various ways, including taking on an online project management bootcamp.

The Relationship Between Scope and Other Project Constraints

There is a relationship between a project’s scope and other constraints that could impact a project, including time, cost, quality, and resources.


Time is the most essential project constraint in project management. If the scope is too big, it can cause delays and push the project past the deadline. This can result in higher costs and stakeholder dissatisfaction.


Costs must also be considered when balancing a project’s scope. If a project’s scope exceeds the available budget, it can lead to unexpected costs. This can make a project less profitable.


The quality of the finished project must meet your stakeholders’ expectations. If the scope of a project is too big, it can often lead to a sacrifice in quality because of a lack of resources.


Resources are a further constraint when managing the scope of a project. If the scope of a project exceeds the available resources, it can lead to a lack of necessary materials, skills, and knowledge.

Also Read: 10 Tips on How to Increase Productivity in the Workplace

Effective Communication in Scope Management

Effective communication is essential because it ensures that everyone has the same understanding of a project’s scope. Start by developing a communication plan that outlines the methods, frequency, and content of communication with each stakeholder. Involving your stakeholders in the plan is imperative to consider their communication preferences adequately. Doing this facilitates a sense of ownership and buy-in from the stakeholders, which is integral to establishing trust and credibility.

Next, adopting a proactive and transparent approach to stakeholder communication is essential. A successful project manager keeps the discussion going by keeping stakeholders updated on project progress, milestones, and potential issues. Regular status updates, meetings, and reports help you maintain visibility and demonstrate accountability throughout the project lifecycle.

The Role of the Project Manager in Project Management Scope

Project managers play a key role in scope planning and control. They are responsible for collaborating with stakeholders to ensure alignment with project objectives and communicate any potential changes or progress to all stakeholders. Projects could easily grow in scope and expectations without an effective project manager.

Best Practices for Successful Scope Management

Fortunately, there are some strategies that you can use to manage a project’s scope and avoid scope creep, even when there are changes to your project along the way. First, it is crucial to conduct thorough scope planning and documentation at the beginning of the project so that everyone is on the same page regarding the project, its outcomes, and critical milestones. During the project, monitoring and controlling scope changes as they occur regularly is essential. This is important to keep the project going forward. Finally, proactive communication and stakeholder engagement remain essential throughout all phases of every project. Simply put, people need to know what to expect.

Let’s take these best practices and arrange them in a series of tips.

Tips for an Effective Project Scope Management

  • Create a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS for short) since it breaks down the scope statement into smaller, more manageable pieces.
  • Define it as clearly as possible. Avoid ambiguity in your scope to avoid unnecessary work and stress.
  • Make the process of scope definition a collaborative process to prevent requirement misinterpretations. Use project collaboration tools to improve communication between project teams.
  • Ensure the scope document isn’t changed during the project’s execution to prevent scope creep.
  • Finally, take all the time required to consult all appropriate stakeholders and define the project scope fully. Once finalized, the scope can’t be changed.

What is a Project Scope Statement?

The project’s scope statement is also called the scope document or statement of work. The project scope statement does the following:

  • It details all the project’s boundaries while establishing the team’s responsibilities.
  • It defines all the procedures that must be followed to verify and approve the finished work.
  • It gives team members a definitive guideline to make project-related decisions.

When documenting the project’s scope, team members and stakeholders must be as specific as possible to avoid scope creep. With effective project management, teams can ensure the project is finished by the deadline, an appropriate project communication plan is in place, and the final product is in synch with the initial requirements.

The Importance of Project Scope Management

Managing stakeholders’ and clients’ expectations is one of the most challenging tasks for project managers. Managers with a definite project scope can easily stay on course and ensure that all deadlines are followed throughout the project’s life cycle.

The Project Scope Management Process

Here’s the typical project scope management process.

  1. Planning scope management. Create a scope plan document that the team can refer to later. This document primarily helps define, manage, validate, and control the project’s scope. It includes:
  • A detailed project scope statement.
  • A breakdown of all the project requirements.
  • Expected project deliverables.
  • The project change control process.

This document doesn’t have to be very detailed but must satisfy the purpose.

  1. Collecting the requirements. Next, figure out stakeholder requirements and expectations, documenting all project requirements, budgets, expectations, and deliverables via interviews, surveys, and focus groups. This step is critical because stakeholders typically have unrealistic expectations and requirements, obliging the project managers to step in and find a solution that works for everyone and prevents delays. At the end of this stage, you should have:
  • Business requirements.
  • Project requirements.
  • Functional as well as non-functional requirements.
  • Stakeholder requirements.
  • Support and training requirements.
  1. Defining the scope. Now, you must turn your requirements into a well-detailed description of the product or service you are trying to deliver via this project. This results in a project scope statement that you can refer to throughout the remainder of the project. Define what’s in and out of the project’s scope. Any inclusion will have to go through the whole change control process to ensure the team’s only working on items they’re supposed to work on. A defined scope gives your project team a solid reference point.
  2. Making a project breakdown structure. As the name implies, a project breakdown structure is a document breaking down all the work required in the project. It then assigns all relevant tasks to the team members and lists the deliverables needing to be completed and their respective deadlines. You can use project management software to perform this step, assigning and prioritizing project tasks, simplifying the whole progress of the project, and avoiding any unnecessary bottlenecks.
  3. Validating scope. The recorded scope and deliverables must now be sent to project executives and stakeholders to acquire the necessary approvals. You must also perform scope validation before starting the project to ensure that it’s easy to find where things went wrong if something goes awry.
  4. Controlling scope. Project managers must ensure that, as the project kicks off, it always stays within the defined scope. If some things need to change, follow the proper change control process.

Are You Looking to Boost Your Career in Project Management?

Chances are, if you were asking, “What is the scope of project management?” you are considering applying project management in your career or whatever else you are trying to achieve. Every company and project needs qualified project managers, after all. If this is the case, consider earning a certification in project management. This six-month program, delivered by Simplilearn in collaboration with the University of Massachusetts, covers everything you need to know to get certified in this rewarding field. You will learn through a mix of live online classes led by industry experts, hands-on industry-based projects, and a capstone to showcase your skills to potential employers.


Q: What is scope in project management?
A: Scope in project management refers to the boundaries and limits of a project. It defines what work is included in the project and what work is not.

Q: What is a project scope example?
A: Here’s a very brief example:

A factory wants to manufacture a widget.

  • Goals & Objectives: Create the widget based on market research and the company’s strategic plans.
  • Requirements: Consider low production costs, high-profit margin, and shortest ROI time. Also, consider the competition’s widget production and the customers’ preferences regarding price, quality, and features.
  • Project Scope Description: Summarize the widget’s various activities in the cycle, including procuring the raw materials, gathering parts from third-party manufacturers, the assembly process, quality control, and distribution.
  • Exclusions. Define and report the product’s features and quality standards.
  • Project Constraints. These constraints refer to the widget manufacturing process, such as resource availability, limited production capacity, machinery maintenance, and customer demand.
  • Project Assumptions. The departments brainstorm elements such as production, maintenance, marketing, and sales and how they interact.
  • Project Deliverables. Deliverables include the various product development documents used in the widget’s production process, the widget prototype, and the final version of the widget that will be launched to the market.

Q: What is a project scope statement?
A: A scope project management statement is a document that outlines the project’s goals, objectives, deliverables, tasks, and deadlines. In summary, it shows us the scope of the project.

You might also like to read:

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9 Project Management Techniques and Tools That Actually Work in 2023

Project Management Phases: A Full Breakdown

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