Definition

project scope

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: Project management strategies that transform businesses: A CIO guide
Contributor(s): Rachel Lebeaux

Project scope is the part of project planning that involves determining and documenting a list of specific project goals, deliverables, tasks, costs and deadlines.

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.

This was last updated in March 2015

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well explained
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What is the hardest part of defining a project's scope?
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I always create project scopes based on the mid-term goals I have. Measuring for a long-term success with a pre-determined project scope is never possible. We always have great intentions, but forecasts do not always stand. For example, the Forex market can have a detrimental effect to our bottom line, and also have an influence on how accurate our project scope may be...this is why we focus on working towards a quality mid-term growth.
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I am not a project manager but as part of a development team, I participate in project planning.

I agree with Steph that defining scope for a long-term project is nearly impossible. Frequent re-evaluation during the project is necessary, and a simple measurement like a burn-down chart helps give everyone a visual indication of the progress. 

Priorities will usually be constantly changing during a project. That's ok, but project managers and stakeholders need to keep in mind that while priorities are changing, either the project scope or the project end date must be flexible. 
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when project is very lenghty .i think  the unfore seen risk factor can affect the scope
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Work Breakdown Structure is Margaret the hardest part. To divide the Work.
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Whenever I see a project that is slated to run over the course of a long period (read, a year or more) i cringe, because I realize just about any scope definition we provide will be meaningless within the next three to six months. Yes, I get that an overall picture needs toe be developed, but I'd be happier and feel more confident with a series of smaller projects and more focused scopes that ultimately add up to a larger but more deliberately blurry target. That allows for teams to adapt and learn along the way, and in the process adjust their target, which may well have moved in the interim.
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Creating the WBS must be the hardest part, yet also the most critical (in my opinion).
You see, to come up with detailed WBS, the team need to be able to visualize the final outcome of the project all the components that make it up. This is a challenge when you have nothing to go by except the requirement definition from stakeholders.
That said however, once the WBS is created successfully and accurately, then the rest of the planning becomes relatively straight forward.
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a project scope is an end-product of a project planning phase and it is being determined by listing and clarifying the limitations of the following inputs:  Project goals & objectives, deliverables, budget and costs, risks assessments, constraints
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