Define Scope Process in Project Management

Scope definition is a part of the delivery performance domain which consists of actions about delivering the scope and quality requirements that a project has to achieve. After the requirements elicitation, it is time to define the scope of the deliverables properly. 

The project scope consists of all of the outcomes of a project including products, services, or results. As we mentioned in the requirements elicitation section, the project scope can be defined in a prescriptive way, or can be evolved continuously with the progress of the project, or can be discovered later. This may change according to the lifecycle type and development approach we use.

Scope Decomposition

There are three common ways to elaborate the project scope;

Project Scope Statement: Especially in projects with waterfall lifecycle, using a scope statement to define the project scope is a useful way. The scope statement can be used together with the WBS and they can form the scope baseline together.

The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS): The project scope can be elaborated by using a WBS. It is done by simply decomposing the project work into lower hierarchic levels until reaching the smaller manageable work package.

Identifying Themes of the Project: In agile projects, theme is a collection of user stories. In order to reach themes, the project team develops large user stories called "epics". Then epics are decomposed into features and each feature may involve multiple user stories.

Completion of Deliveries

There are 3 ways of project completion;

  • Defining acceptance and completion criteria in the scope statement,
  • Measurement of technical specifications documented,
  • Definition of done, by using a checklist including all criteria need to be completed.

How to Define Project Scope?

After the project charter has been created and stakeholders have been identified and finally, the requirements have been determined, we may now move on to the scope definition process as the next step. In pm exams, we will encounter questions about sorting processes according to the time they are implemented. It's hard to memorize the entire sequence, but when we get deeper into the main logic behind processes, you'll notice that such questions aren't so difficult. Because when you execute logic, you will find that the scope cannot be defined until the requirements are defined.

When it comes to the scope of the project, usually both the scope of the product and the scope of the project are considered together. The purpose of the scope identification process is to reveal a detailed description of both the product and the project. If the scope is being defined thoroughly, it is wrong for the project manager to think of only one of the product scope or project scope. when defining the scope, the project and product scope should be considered together as a whole and focused on both separately.

I think it's a really important step in ensuring the success of a project. This process involves clearly defining what is and what isn't included in the project, and it's critical to establish boundaries and expectations from the beginning.

I also think that the define scope process allows for better communication and collaboration among the project team and stakeholders. By clearly communicating what is included in the project, everyone involved can be on the same page and work towards a common goal. This can help to reduce confusion and improve efficiency throughout the project.

Of course, the define scope process is just one step in the overall project management process. But it's a critical one that lays the foundation for the entire project. Without a clear understanding of what is and isn't included in the project, it's difficult to plan, execute and ultimately deliver a successful project.

During the scope definition process, the project manager refines the previously documented requirements by performing a number of analyses. At the end of this process, the project scope statement is obtained as output.

While defining the scope, a project manager has to make sure to prevent any miscommunication by creating clear terms and definitions. A glossary of terms would be very helpful to achieve this. Every stakeholder should understand the same from the scope of the project. 

Another important aspect of the scope of a project is the scope should be as comprehensive as possible as any missing requirements, assumptions, and constraints in the project or product scope will bring about changes. A PM-certified project manager needs to be proactive and try to involve all project work in the scope and welcome changes only if they are necessary and approved. 
Inputs of the Define Scope Process
  • Scope management plan: It provides the processes for developing the scope and monitoring and controlling the project scope
  • Project Charter: Provides the high-level description and project characteristics which is very essential for the definition of the scope.
  • Requirements Documentation: This will be used to select the requirements for the project.
  • Organizational Process Assets: These are the company's own standards about how to run a project. It includes their guidelines, instructions and procedures. You need to follow also lessons learned as one of the organizational process assets for defining the scope.
  • Assumption Log: You need to take predefined assumptions and constraints about the project while defining the scope.
  • Risk Register: A risk register is useful while creating the scope statement.
Tools and Techniques Used in Defining the Scope
  • Facilitation: Facilitation is a more structured way of group discussion where the moderator leads the group through the brainstorming session. In this discussion, you make sure that you're in the same line as stakeholders. You can also discuss the quantifiable goals which can be measured on the project.
  • Multicriteria Decision Analysis: With this technique, you make decisions about the scope of the project according to a set of predefined criteria.
  • Product analysis: By using this technique while defining the scope, you write down the features of the product so that your stakeholders know you're working on the product as per their expectations.
  • Alternatives AnalysisThis is about thinking of other ways to do the work, and exploring different options to do the work more efficiently. This might lead you to change the original scope management plan.
  • Expert judgment: This is about bringing in the experts who can help you experts from outside the project or someone from outside the department or even a contractor to define the scope.

Outputs Created in Define Scope Process
  • Project scope statement: The scope statement includes project objectives, a detailed description of the project, project requirements, project exclusions, project deliverables, product acceptance criteria, and assumptions and constraints of a project.
Outputs Updated