All projects are about producing something—either a product or a service or a result. To produce the product, you must do work. The Project Management Institute (PMI) has defined project scope as the work that must be done to deliver the product of the project with the required features and functionality. Project scope management is about defining the work of the project and then, maintaining control of the work in the project. Project scope management includes the processes required to ensure that the project consists of only the work required to deliver the product of the project. It also includes controlling what is and what is not included in the project (PMI, 2008).
According to the fourth edition of PMBOK® Guide, project scope management consists of the following five processes:
- Gather requirements.
- Define scope.
- Create a work breakdown structure (WBS).
- Verify scope.
- Control scope.
Since Ashley’s project is in its initial stage, you will focus on the first three processes this week and the last two processes in the later weeks.
Ashley’s project is in its nascent stage, where she has to plan meticulously to be able to hold this project in a better shape. You will now see how Ashley is progressing.
She has completed an initial, high-level communications plan for the project. She has set up meetings with important stakeholders whom she wants to interview. Ashley has also started filling out the project charter, even though she doesn’t have the complete details at this stage.
Ashley checks Jim’s schedule and realizes that she has just two weeks more before he arrives. She has too much to achieve within this time, which, she knows, will not be possible to accomplish alone.
Ashley decides to review the nine project management knowledge areas—particularly, scope management, quality management, and integration management—before her meeting with Mac. Ashley pulls out the Swedberg Project Plan to review the details of the knowledge areas.
She still has to collect requirements, but she wants to be ahead of the curve and be ready for the next steps. Although there are nine knowledge areas, the four knowledge areas of project scope management, time management, cost management and quality management are closely linked. Simply put, if you change the project scope, you must change at least one of the other three areas. If you increase the scope of the project (you want more features) and want to hold the quality constant (you want a good product), it will either take more money or more time or both to finish the project.
While this is a simple and obvious truth, it is often ignored. A project manager should review these relationships and carefully consider the impact of changing any of the parameters of a project.
It is important to understand the relationship between requirements and scope for controlling and managing the work in the project. Requirements are the needed traits of the product, service, or result being produced by the project. These traits include:
- Functions and features
- Ease of maintenance
- Ease of use
Gathering requirements from stakeholders is critical since accurate requirements definition is the foundation for developing the final product scope. Product scope is the foundation for project scope—the work of the project.
Frequently, the requirements for a project’s product are not accurately identified. Sometimes, even when the requirements are identified, the project suffers because the process is incomplete or requirements change. Therefore, it is critical that the requirements are stabilized early in the lifecycle of a project. Without requirements stability, changes in scope continue (Turtle, 1994).
Poor requirements definition will result in complete misalignment of the real need for the product or service, the customer’s desire, and the project outcome.
To gather requirements, first analyze the project charter to create a list of stakeholders or a “stakeholder register.” While customers and users are the primary stakeholders, do not ignore other stakeholders such as the project sponsor.
Like Ashley, you can use interviews, meetings, focus groups, facilitated workshops, questionnaires, surveys, or other ways to meet with the stakeholders to:
- Gain insight into stakeholder goals, needs, and problems.
- Determine and prioritize the performance factors for the product of the project.
- Determine current performance levels.
- Identify gaps between current and desired levels of performance.
- Identify the product or process features needed to fill that gap.
- Design those features into the product scope.
- Translate product scope into project scope.
Lastly, be sure to not only collect requirements but also get an agreement on them before defining the project scope and planning for time and cost.
Creating the project scope statement is one of the earliest and most important tasks that the project manager will facilitate. Inputs from the sponsor, customers, project team members, and other stakeholders will be of critical importance to getting the scope statement right. The project scope statement should be the sum of the products and services the project will deliver and, of equal importance, what the project will not deliver. A great many projects fail because the scope statement does not preclude added product features after the budget and schedule have been set.
Here’s an example of a scope statement:
“We will build a three mile section of highway connecting State Road 1 and State Road 8. The new section of highway will meet Federal Highway Standards. The section of the highway will not include curbing nor will there be additional landscaping beyond that specified by Federal Standards. The new highway section will not extend beyond State Road 8.”
A project scope statement like this explains what will, and will not be, accomplished by the project and gives the project manager a good grounding to control project scope throughout the project life cycle.
In order to define the scope for her project, Ashley will have to do the following:
- Gather requirements: Ashley will have to meet the key players of the project and gain insight into their goals, needs, and problems. She will also have to convene the focus groups of users to identify gaps between the current and the desired levels of performance.
- Prioritize the requirements: She will need to determine and prioritize the performance factors for the product of the project keeping the stakeholders’ requirements in mind. She will also have to create a requirements traceability matrix to keep track of who asked for what.
After Ashley has prioritized the requirements list, she will be able to identify the product or process features needed in the final product. She can then work those features into the product scope and carefully describe the features that will be and will not be part of the CRM system.
Once she has the scope statement ready, the next step is to create the WBS,
Work Breakdown Structure
Once the project manager has established an initial working project scope statement and collected requirements to validate and refine the scope statement, the next step is to define the work. To do this, the project manager and the project team must determine deliverables and decompose (subdivide) the work into smaller more manageable components (PMI, 2008). This process is called creating a WBS.
The characteristics of a WBS include:
- A deliverable-oriented grouping of project elements
- Organization and definition of the total work scope of a project
- Each descending level represents increasing detail
The PMI Practice Standard for Work Breakdown Structures (2006) provides additional WBS characteristics:
- Defines a hierarchy of deliverables
- Supports definition of all work required
- Supports integration of schedule and cost
- Facilitates reporting and analysis
- Provides a framework for specifying performance objectives
A WBS helps a project manager in:
- Developing the project management plan
- Defining activities
- Estimating costs
- Determining the project’s budget
- Planning for quality
- Planning for risks
- Planning for procurement
Additionally, a WBS assists a project manager in reporting progress to not just the project team but also the stakeholders. More importantly, a WBS is the main input into project scheduling (time) and cost planning.
To prepare a WBS, first ensure that the scope statement has been agreed upon by the stakeholders. Then, the project manager and the team should:
- Identify the final products of the project (use scope and requirements documents)
- Define the project’s major deliverables that make up the final product
- Decompose the major deliverables (to a level appropriate for management and control)
- Review and refine the WBS until the stakeholders agree (PMI, 2006)
In a WBS, work is broken down in the following order:
- Work package
The activity level is the highest level where work can be accomplished as a complete job that yields a deliverable product.
A deliverable is a work outcome (result or item) that is measurable, tangible, and verifiable. A work package is the grouping of work that results in a deliverable at the lowest level of the WBS (PMI, 2006).
The Planning Phase
Coupled with the project charter, the Project Life Cycle (PLC) represents a roadmap for the project. Initiating, defining, and planning the project take much effort and considerable time.
Once the project charter is approved, the project manager and the project team should begin planning the project in earnest. The team should focus on:
- Developing an initial WBS
- Sequencing activities and building an initial schedule
- Estimating the cost
- Identifying risks and planning risk responses
- Preparing a detailed communication plan
- Organizing the project
Throughout the planning phase, the team should revise these activities so that at execution, the plan is a refined, valid document.
The PMI (2008) suggests that, in addition to the basic project plan described above, the project team should also develop a series of subsidiary management plans. These include:
- Scope management plan: Describes the processes a project manager will use to control changes to the project scope
- Requirements management plan: Describes the processes a project manager will use to collect, refine, and manage stakeholder requirements
- Schedule management plan: Describes the processes a project manager will use to manage the project’s schedule
- Cost management plan: Describes the processes a project manager will use to manage the project’s budget
- Quality management plan: Describes the processes a project manager will use to ensure the project produces a quality product
- Human resources plan: Describes the plan for bringing staff on to the project and removing staff if required
- Communications management plan: Describes when, how, and to whom a project manager will communicate about the project
- Risk response plan: Describes the predetermined responses a project manager will activate if a risk occurs
- Procurement management plan: Describes what a project manager expects to purchase for the project (goods and services) and the expected sources
- Issues management plan: Describes how a project manager will manage the issues that arise as the project proceeds
All these components make up a fully documented project plan. This level of detail is appropriate for a large, expensive, and strategic project. Some projects are small and do not require the level of detail presented here. For small projects, the project manager should not ignore any of the details and subsidiary plans but should, rather, review the PLC and the project charter and make a conscious decision to exclude various plans and activities, if warranted.
The project management framework, processes, and knowledge areas that we have examined up until now are nothing without a methodology to apply them. We need something to “integrate” the framework, processes, and knowledge areas.
Consider this arrow diagram. opens in new window
Note that project integration management ties the core and facilitating knowledge areas into a coherent whole. The integration function of the main arrow in the diagram represents the primary role of a project manager. A project manager is responsible for pulling all actions and control mechanisms of a project into a cohesive unit. Integration is no small task, but its components are understandable.
The seven project integration management processes are:
- Develop the project charter.
- Develop the preliminary project scope statement.
- Develop the project management plan.
- Direct and manage project execution.
- Monitor and control the project work.
- Perform integrated change control.
- Close the project or phase.
The table below shows how each of the processes under project integration management maps to one of the five process groups.
Project Management Process Group
Project Integration Management
Initiating process group
Planning process group
Executing process group
Monitoring and controlling process group
Closing process group