Why Defining Project Scope Is Important

Defining project scope is important because it sets the boundaries for your project.

Project scope is one of the things you are supposed to manage as a Project Manager. Do you really understand WHY it is important?


What Is Project Scope?

Often I think we don’t fully understand what the word ‘scope’ means. It then leaves us in a place of not understanding how important it is to our project outcome.

The scope is defined as

(a) the extent of the area or subject matter that something deals with or to which it is relevant

(b) the opportunity or possibility to do or deal with something

In the context of a project then the scope defines the area or subject matter that will be included in the project boundaries, or areas being worked on.

Project scope should be set out very clearly at the start of the project.

Without the scope being clearly defined, it’s going to be difficult to monitor and you will, therefore, struggle to deliver a successful project.

Where Do You Define Project Scope?

Project scope is something that should be defined very clearly in your business case.

The definition will be a combination of your problem or opportunity statement and the Business Requirements that are developed.

Listing out assumptions also helps with clarity of the scope.

A problem statement sets out the problem the business is having, and how, or what it is that you require. The change in other words. The project itself is what you require to fix that problem.

Why Scope Is Important

Let me describe it this way. If I asked you to make me a box would you know what I wanted?

The answer would be ‘No’. You would be guessing what you thought I wanted, in terms of how big, how deep, what I might want it made of. Unless you asked me more specific questions to find out exactly what I wanted the box for and why I wanted it, you’d be guessing.

Would this be the best use of your time?  Me asking you to make a box without clear definition for you of what I required.  The answer is no, of course not.

Yet, that’s the equivalent of what we do on a project when we don’t clearly define the scope or boundaries of what is required to be delivered.

How To Check You Have Clearly Defined Your Scope

Do you understand exactly what it is you need to deliver?  Are you clear on what is and isn’t included in your project?

Have you identified the assumptions about what you think will or won’t happen?

Are you clear on the specific requirements that are to be delivered as part of your project?

If you answered no to any of these questions, then you haven’t clearly defined your scope. I would suggest going back to the drawing board and clarifying that area.

The Benefits Of A Clearly Defined Scope

  • The clearer you are the easier it is for you to direct your project delivery team. This also makes it easier to say no to work that should not be carried out as part of your project.
  • When your team feels pressured you will know what to say yes to, in terms of work that must be completed.
  • Costs will stay under budget when you are able to track against your clearly defined scope.