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Guide for Project Managers #5: Scope Management

This week, let’s focus on another core knowledge areas of project management, scope management. Project scope management includes the processes involved in defining and controlling what work is or is not included in a project. It ensures that the project team and stakeholders have the same understanding of what products the project will produce and what processes the project team will use to produce them.

Product scope vs Project scopeHowever, there is a pitfall that most of the managers are tend to be misunderstood. Scope management is not only about gathering the requirements and defining a scope in which the project is build from. More precisely, we can say that there are five basic steps of scope management:

  1. Collecting requirements
  2. Defining scope
  3. Creating the WBS
  4. Verifying scope
  5. Controlling scope

As a nature of each and every project, there can always be additions and upgrades to what is planned at the beginning. As the project progresses, project management members will see “critical” functionality that needs to be added and will lobby hard for additions to the original scope. While new functionality should not be rejected out of hand, hard decisions must be made to keep the project from careening out of proportion. Even worse is the scenario where customizations quietly happen behind the scenes and without the knowledge of the project manager. Care must be taken at all stages of the project to contain scope creep. Therefore, when there are updates on the project scope, keep in mind that almost all project management knowledge areas are interconnected; especially cost, time and scope. In other words, when there are changes in the scope of the project during the development and of the project, a great project manager should be able to not only focus on scope but also consider the corresponding changes in other knowledge areas and plan accordingly.


For instance, a Gantt Chart which can show the start and completion time of the project components, as well as the work breakdown structure and dependencies between the elements can be really helpful. With the help of a good scheduling tool, the needs and steps of the project can be clearer. The vague of scope management, with the presence of inadequate Work  Breakdown Structure (WBS), and lacking verifying & controlling scope, the project can potentially be completed beyond the scheduled plan. At this point, Gantt Chart seems one of the most common scheduling tools for the project management – at least for me; standard, easy to use & understand. However, other software tools such as Liquid Planner and MS Project are out there as alternatives. In addition to those, having network diagrams, dashboards and mind-map for the project are all good practices for the sake of scheduling.



Kathy Schwalbe, Information Technology Project Management, 2011

Dave Swartz, Ken Orgill, Higher Education ERP: Lessons Learned, 2000

Image source: Flickr

Uğur İnanç

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