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Scope Management Overview

Knowledge Areas Covered on the PMP® Certification Exam

Scope Management is the collection of processes which ensure that the project includes all the work required to complete the project but also make sure to exclude anything that is not necessary or part of the project. The scope is defined in the project scope statement which defines those boundaries.

"Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do." - Steve Jobs 

Scope Management builds control processes to address elements that may alter the project during the project life-cycle.

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Boots Publishing 

You are project manager for Boots Publishing company. During this week’s team meeting, the Senior Project Manager would like you to spearhead a project to implement a new software system that will allow eBook orders to be tracked more efficiently. She asks you to develop a scope management plan for review at the next meeting.

Before we get to the specifics, what is scope management? In a nutshell, it is the collection of processes which ensure that the project includes all the work required to complete the project but also make sure to exclude anything that is not necessary or part of the project.

As a project manager, you are focused on both the project scope and product scope. What is the difference? Product scope is the features and characteristics of the product itself. In this case, it would be the software system itself, how the menus work, how it integrates with existing systems. Project scope is the work required to get to the implantation of the new software system. It is not concerned with how the actual product functions, but what steps are needed to deliver the product. Product and Project Scope go hand in hand. It is impossible to provide the product (deliverable) without figuring out the steps required to get to that point.

It is critical that your Scope Management Plan has a clear Project Scope Statement. The purpose of the project scope statement is anyone reading it will have a clear understanding of the objectives and results of the project. It should be detailed, provide a time frame for the project work, measurable information and it should be realistic. The project work should be attainable. You do not want to set yourself up for failure.

Furthermore, you will exclude what is not part of the project. In our example, Boots Publishing Company will implement a new software system allowing eBook orders to be tracked more efficiently. The initial implementation will undergo testing by a small group of employees during the 1st quarter of 2019. By the 2nd quarter of 2019, the new system will be implemented throughout the entire division, approximately 100 computers. Training and support will be provided after the implementation through the company’s help desk. This project will provide financial savings and eliminate job redundancy.

Now that you have a clear understanding of the project work, you are going to start gathering the requirements. This task involves documenting the stakeholder’s needs. You can achieve this using various techniques such as questionnaires, interviewing, focus groups or setting up a prototype that can be tested and feedback can be received and reviewed. The idea is to create an in-depth list of project requirements to ensure everyone has a common understanding of the project. These requirements should be documented and reviewed to confirm nothing has been missed. Do not skip this step; otherwise, you will find yourself managing a project with no clear outcome. It is vital to consult with the staff about what could be provided to help them do their jobs more effectively. Through the review of the requirements, a decision will be reached what software is available and what best fits their needs while adhering to the budget and schedule. This, in turn, will allow you to define scope, which drives the execution of the project’s requirements. Defining the scope is a clear understanding of the requirements and how they will be delivered.

So how does the Project Manager manage, validate and control the project scope? To capture all the project deliverables, you will create a work breakdown structure. The goal is to break down the deliverables into progressively smaller pieces. These pieces are referred to as work packages. Some characteristics of these work packages that is they can be estimated for time, cost and can be assigned to a single person. In our project, a deliverable would be Testing, which can be further broken down into testing functionality, User feedback, and acceptance, testing integration, etc.

As the deliverables are completed, they need to be inspected and reviewed. Either they are accepted, or we may request further revisions. A user who is testing the system may ask the interface to be simplified for the end user.

As the project is executed, the scope must be controlled. This is done to prevent change requests that can overwhelm the project or may not be part of the project. In our next article, we will talk more about Project Scope Creep.

Finally, was the project successful? Overseeing software implementation, evaluating its effectiveness, providing feedback to stakeholders regarding the item's return on investment are all part of the project manager's duties.

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