How to write a project scope statement
May 30, 2019

How to Write a Project Scope Statement?

By Brian McHale

Ah, projects. They’re exciting, but they come with a lot of risks that you have to manage.

And the most important one is definitely the project scope.

If you’re not a professional project manager, things can get confusing.

Projects can spiral into chaos faster than you can say “delegating tasks.”

That’s why we’ll show you everything you need to know about organizing your projects through project scope management.

Let’s dive in!


1. What Is Scope in Project Management?

A project scope statement is an ace up your sleeve when it comes to project management.

It’s the easiest way to define the boundaries and deliverables in the project.

It’s also one of the most important responsibilities in the project manager’s role.

According to the project scope definition, it is “the part of project planning that involves determining and documenting a list of specific project goals, deliverables, tasks, costs, and deadlines.”

You may also know it as a statement of work, or a project charter.

It’s a simple way to make sure you, your team, and the client are all on the same page about what needs to be done, what resources you’ll need to finish the project, and when the project is going to be delivered.

And since efficient project scope management is one of the most important parts of managing a project, creating a simple scope statement can help you know what you’re actually dealing with.

So how do you create one?

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2. How to Create a Project Scope Statement

The first thing you need to do is get the stakeholders and your team in one room.

Together, you should create the basic outline of the project.

You should also collect the clients’/stakeholders’ requirements for the project. What do they want done?

From there, you can create a work breakdown structure (WBS).

A WBS is particularly important for the stakeholders.

You’ve probably come across stakeholders who had unrealistically high expectations (AKA they wanted way more bang for just a few bucks).

If you show them what tasks your team will complete, they’ll understand the resources and the time you’ll need to finish the project.

Otherwise, they may think you’ll only need a few tasks to complete their project.

Creating a WBS is also a great way to simplify task management later on, as you’ll have prepared a list of tasks that need to be performed and you can go straight to work.

Work Breakdown Structure

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From there, you can start creating the project scope statement through the following criteria:

1. Project Justification

Project justification is a brief statement explaining the background of the project and expectations.

What business needs will the project address?


2. Product Description

The product description should contain the characteristics of the end product and outline the stakeholders’ expectations of the product’s functionalities.


3. Acceptance Criteria

Which criteria should the project satisfy in order to be accepted?

For example, if you’re developing an app, how many users should it support?


4. Objectives

What will be accomplished with the finished project?


5. Project Exclusions

Project exclusions are the things that the project will not produce, and it’s always a good idea to add them to the scope statement.


6. Necessary Resources

The project scope statement should also outline the necessary resources for the completion of the project.

Sometimes, this can mean the stakeholders supplying you with more materials.

However, it typically details the number of work hours and/or the number of team members that will need to work on the project.


7. Timing and Budget

When defining the scope of the project, it’s incredibly important to include all the relevant deadlines and the agreed budget.

This way, you’ll be able to negotiate extensions or manage changes with more ease.

Typically, timing and budget go into the project proposal but if you’re not a professional project manager, it’s much easier to include these factors into your project scope statement for clarity.


8. Project Constraints

Similarly to project exclusions, you should add any constraints to the project scope statement.

They describe what can be achieved, and what can be achieved with further re-negotiation, more time, a bigger budget, and so on.


9. Metrics and Measurement

Depending on the type of project you’re working on, you may be expected to deliver certain results through milestones.

If you’re dealing with that type of project, you should also define how the project success will be tracked from milestone to milestone.

In most cases, you can agree on product or task milestones with the stakeholders.

For example, you and your team should finish the onboarding platform by April, the dashboard by May, and so on.


10. Change Management

Finally, you and the stakeholders should agree on how you’re going to manage changes in the project scope if they occur.

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3. What are the Benefits of Project Scope Management?

While documenting the scope of a project through a project scope statement can seem like a formality, it has numerous useful applications for your team and your project.

The first thing project scope management helps with is understanding the realities of your project.

Some projects seem like they won’t be a lot of work until you actually get to them and see how tricky they are.

When you create a project scope statement, you’re actually outlining all that needs to be achieved.

And even if you don’t create a WBS (a work breakdown structure), you can still understand what tasks will need to be performed, and decide if the expectations match the realities of the project.

Work Breakdown Structures

You can also use project scope management for task management and project tracking.

If you and the stakeholders are fully aware of all the objectives and deliverables, you can efficiently schedule and assign tasks, as well as set milestones, and allocate the budget.

And since you’re aware of what needs to be done, you can use the right metrics to see if you and your team are performing well.

It’ll show you if you’ll meet the deadline before you’ve reached it.

Finally, project scope management helps you avoid scope creep (the project becoming more complex than expected).

You’ll make sure your project doesn’t go over budget, your team will be clearer on what they need to do, and you’ll avoid plenty of headaches.


How to Implement Project Scope Management?

Now, this can be easier said than done. But if you want to manage projects better at your company, you can start by:


1. Creating a project brief

If you’re dealing with external clients or plenty of projects within your company, create a standardized brief that’s going to lead stakeholders into the process of the project scope statement creation.

It can also help them clarify the projects to themselves, and be more aware of what they’re trying to accomplish and what they’re actually asking you to do.


2. Tracking and outlining your current projects

If you want to be able to create WBS and project scope statements in the future, it’s best to learn from the past.

Identify what your past projects were like, what their scopes were, and how you defined tasks and objectives.

This will help you create your following project scope statements easier.


3. Get your team on board

People don’t really like changes so it’s best to start implementing project scope management in increments.

Encourage your teammates to help you create project scope statements, and show them how they’re going to help.

And finally, make sure they’re clear on the benefits:

After all, no client will ever be able to say: “But that’s not what we agreed on!” if you’ve got it down on paper.


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