Project scope is the part of project planning that involves determining and documenting a list of specific project goals, deliverables, tasks, costs and deadlines.
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The documentation of a project's scope explains the boundaries of the project, establishes responsibilities for each team member and sets up procedures for how completed work will be verified and approved. The documentation may be referred to as a scope statement, statement of work (SOW) or terms of reference. During the project, this documentation helps the project team remain focused and on task.
The scope statement also provides the project team leader or facilitator with guidelines for making decisions about change requests during the project. It is natural for parts of a large project to change along the way, so the better the project has been "scoped" at the beginning, the better the project team will be able to manage change. When documenting a project's scope, stakeholders should be as specific as possible in order to avoid scope creep, a situation in which one or more parts of a project ends up requiring more work, time or effort because of poor planning or miscommunication.
Effective scope management requires good communication to ensure that everyone on the team understands the scope of the project and agrees upon exactly how the project's goals will be met. As part of project scope management, the team leader should solicit approvals and sign-offs from the various stakeholders as the project proceeds, ensuring that the finished project, as proposed, meets everyone's needs.
Please note, a project's scope statement should not be confused with its charter; a project's charter simply documents that the project exists.