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One of the first – and arguably most important – stages of project management is to define the scope. Project managers and team members will encounter numerous hurdles when performing tasks, some of which can push back the project’s date of completion. A well-defined scope, however, keeps everyone on track by revealing the project’s work, goals and more.
Project Scope vs Product Scope: What’s the Difference ?
Some product managers assume that project scope is the same as product scope, but this isn’t necessarily true. The project scope is the specific work that must be completed to deliver the product or service, whereas the product scope is the features and functions of the product or service.
In essence, project scope focuses more on the specific work that’s required, while product scope emphasizes functional requirements.
Breaking Down the Scope
When defining the scope of a project, the project manager should focus on a few key elements, including the following:
Resources and tools
Furthermore, boundaries must be set for these scope elements. In other words, which team member or members will perform the tasks and processes? What is the specific deadline for them? How much money is allocated to each specific task and process? These are all things that should be defined in the project’s scope.
Create a Scope Statement
A scope statement should also be used when defining the scope of a project, typically before creating the statement of work (SOW). The scope statement should include all the elements listed above; thus, acting as a roadmap for the project manager and team members to follow.
Depending on the extent of the project, the scope statement may need several additional sections, such as a scope management plan, approved change requests, acceptance criteria, etc. The Project Management Institute (PMI) also recommends a Work Breakdown Structure (MBS), which as the name suggests, “breaks down” the work listed in the scope statement into smaller units (known as work packages). So, instead of seeing a complex list of large tasks, team members see smaller and more specific units of work.
Defining the scope is just one step in project management. Nonetheless, it plays an important role in the project’s outcome. Without a scope, team members are forced to blindly work without any sense of guidance or direction. Even if they can complete the project, it can probably be completed in a more efficient manner if the scope is clearly defined in a scope statement – that’s why defining the scope is essential in project management.