Would you ever start baking a cake without knowing the full list of ingredients? Or without an idea of what the finished cake should look like?
Of course you wouldn’t — it makes no sense at all. The same principle applies to project management. Without knowing what’s involved and what the deliverables are, how can you expect to cross the finish line?
In this article, we’re going to look at project scope, why it’s useful, and how using a work management platform makes scope planning a whole lot easier.
What is scope in project management?
Scope in project management is a way of identifying the work required to reach the end of your project, as well as what doesn’t fit the bill.
It involves giving everyone — including project stakeholders — an overview of how to determine the project’s success while also setting boundaries for the project.
These boundaries are usually set based on the following:
- What goes into the project
- What end deliverables are required
- How to determine project success
Now, let’s find out more about what’s involved in the scope management process.
What’s involved in project scope management?
We’re not going to lie to you — project scope management isn’t always straightforward. In fact, there’s quite a lot involved in the process. To loosely quote Shrek, it has layers — just like an onion.
Not only does it involve making sure that the project is completed on time, within budget, and within the approved scope, but it also requires you to manage scope changes throughout the project. Scope in project management happens during the initiation step of the project management life cycle.
Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, you’ll also need to ensure these changes don’t impact project deliverables.
But don’t worry. To break it down and give you a better idea of what’s involved in project scope management, we’re going to answer some of the most frequently asked questions.
5 steps of defining scope
Scope definition can be broken down into five core steps:
- Identifying project needs
- Determining project goals
- Taking into account project limitations
- Defining resources and budget
- Perfecting your project scope statement
What is a project scope statement?
A project scope statement is pretty much what it says on the tin — a written statement that outlines the scope of the project.
The project scope statement is referred to throughout the project to ensure that things are still heading in the right direction, and that you don’t lose focus of the project scope as things progress.
Despite how useful it is, only 61% of businesses create a scoping document as part of their project planning.
In our opinion, that’s a pretty low percentage — especially given that without the scope statement, there’s a chance your project could veer off course. Next thing you know, you’re 3 months into a 1 month project with no end in sight.
*Cue nightmares of disorganized projects*
What is the connection between work breakdown structure and project scope?
If you’re not familiar with a work breakdown structure (WBS), it’s basically a breakdown of the entire project based on the Waterfall methodology.
(Agile uses slightly different tools — like the product backlog — to essentially accomplish the same thing.)
The WBS allows project managers to easily see all the deliverables of a project in one place, and it’s usually created after the project scope statement is approved.
So, what’s the best way to make your own WBS?
Well, you have two options:
- You can create your WBS from scratch
- You can use a work management platform like monday.com to do the grunt work for you.
We know what we’d choose.
What is a scope baseline in project management?
The scope baseline is similar to the initial scope, but it tends to be more detailed and is often presented in a different format.
Your initial scope might be a handful of paragraphs and some rough diagrams, where your baseline is something that’s measurable — you need to be able to compare scope against it as progress goes on so you can catch changes.
It’s an important benchmark to measure scope change throughout the entire project, and to determine if the final delivered scope is a success.
Items in the scope baseline can only be amended through a formal change control process, so this is something you need to have in place before the project goes live.
Read also our blog on project assumptions.
So, yeah. There’s a lot going on with the scope baseline. To help you keep on top of it, we’d recommend using project management software.
That way, you’ll be able to easily track the scope baseline and be automatically notified of any changes that are made throughout the project.
At monday.com, we’ve even created change request templates that will allow you to jump right in and get going.
What does ‘out of scope’ mean?Anything that doesn’t fall within the project scope statement is out of scope. So if a task isn’t included in the original project plan, or doesn’t contribute toward a project objective, it’s probably out of scope.
This an important thing to be aware of in scope project management.
But if you’ve ever heard the phrase “I’m sure you said that was included,” you know how vital it is to be crystal clear about what you’re not going to do as part of a project.
One of your jobs as a project manager is to ensure that everyone in your project team remains within the scope of the project, and to prevent scope creep from taking its toll.
Fortunately, there are ways to make sure you steer clear of tasks outside of your scope. One is to state in your project scope what work isn’t covered or included.
Another option is to use a powerful Work OS like monday.com.
Our platform — which is a fully optimized Work OS that goes beyond the capabilities of a simple work management platform — allows users to communicate regularly, and provides total transparency over what your team is working on. That way, you can ensure that the project is moving in line with the scope management plan.
Get ahead of project scope management with monday.com
As you can probably tell by now, there’s a lot more to project scope management than meets the eye.
It can be pretty overwhelming if you’re new to it.
But one way to help you keep on top of everything is to use a Work OS — like monday.com. We help businesses keep on top of their project scope management in the most efficient way possible.
Now, let’s take a look at how we do it:
- Flexibility: At monday.com, we know how important flexibility is for you and your projects. Fortunately for you, our software is super flexible, so you can view your project scope in the best way for you and your team. Choose from a variety of views and layouts including a Gantt chart, a Kanban board, or you could even choose a split view if you’re finding it hard to choose.
- Collaborative: When you’re working with a team of people on a project that needs to align with your scope baseline, collaboration is vital. Fortunately, we provide teams with one location for all their updates, file sharing, and communications. That’s right, you can even talk to each other — and your clients — on our platform.
- Intuitive: When you’ve got a complex project in your midst, the last thing you want to do is spend hours setting up a new platform. That’s why we’ve made our software super easy to navigate. We even have a selection of pre-made templates for you to use from the get go. Whether you’re looking for a project management plan or a project charter, we’ve got a template to help you get going.
Make scope in project management a routine process
By now, you should know what scope is in project management, how it works, and how to use it in your next project.
Effective scope management is tricky to get right. So why not save yourself some of the hassle and use one of our customizable templates?