Constructing Powerful Scope Statements
A successful project scope statement should be concise and clear. Anyone reading the statement should have a good idea of what the project consists of (and what will not be part of the project). This statement will give a view of the project. It is also important to be specific in a project scope statement.
For example, “The catalog will feature 100 products” is better than “The catalog will feature many products” and “The project will be completed over six months” is preferable to “The project will be completed over a period of time.” The more specific you can be, the better.
In order to better understand ways to construct scope statements, let’s look at a couple of examples.
University Technology Upgrades
Imagine being confronted with the following scope statement:
University X wants to upgrade its facilities to include WiFi technologies accessible anywhere on campus. This project will offer students, faculty, and staff the ability to be productive from anywhere on campus. The project will take place over a time period in which measurable results will be achieved.
What are your first thoughts? My initial thought is that this scope statement completely lacks any of the SMART goal features. SMART stands for:
- Agreed Upon
- Time Bound
In order to change the above scope statement into a SMART goal, the university would have to restate their project, perhaps in the following manner:
University X will upgrade the library, dormitories, offices, and then all campus buildings to IEEE 802.11 technology, starting at the north side of campus with the library. This project will facilitate productivity via computer of faculty, staff, and students. The project will be complete by fall semester, 2011.
You will notice that this scope statement includes specific directions for completion of the project. The results are measurable – we can know how many buildings have been upgraded. It is agreed upon, realistic (because we are taking a building-by-building approach), and time bound – it will be completed by a specific date.
Not Just About Defining the Scope
Scope statements don’t just define the scope. They also list the team name, start and end dates, objectives, deliverables, and milestones. Alternative approaches may be identified, expert judgments, stakeholder analysis, and product analysis should also be listed. The scope statement is not to be confused with a project charter. Project charters are more involved and they provide authorization for the project.
The Long Example – Software Development
Project Title: Bouncy Bunny Counts Money
Project Justification: Our company has a hole in the market when it comes to children’s items. Bouncy Bunny Counts Money will fulfill this hole and further boost our accounting software market to parents of the children using this game.
Project Scope: This project will consist of creating a marketable game based upon the Bouncy Bunny Counts Money comics on our website. The project will be completed by December, 2010. Modules of the game will include a simple shopping game, a way for Bouncy Bunny to earn money, and a way to motivate players to continue to play.
- Scope Statement
- Progress Reports
- Issues Reports
- Weekly Meeting Notes
- Final Game
Project Success: The project will be determined successful if the game sells.
Evaluating the Bouncy Bunny Scope Statement Example
While the scope statement above contains SMART goals, it is still lacking as a proper scope statement. First, there will be way more deliverables than are listed.
When determining what deliverables will be produced, it may be helpful to first decompose your project and then formulate a work breakdown structure. This way, all milestones and deliverables will have been defined for your project.
Second, the team members and important stakeholders are not listed. One of the important scope statement components is a stakeholder analysis. You can use a stakeholder analysis matrix in creating your scope statement. This way, it is defined at the project’s initiation just who will be involved in the project.
Third, the determination of project success is not SMART. It will be important for this project team to further define what project success will look like. How many copies should sell? How long should they take to sell?
In the project justification, it is mentioned that this project is to also boost sales of company x’s accounting software. How many units of that should be sold? Be very specific in your scope statement, It is one of the most important documents in your project planning process, and a properly written scope statement will help you to prevent the dreaded scope creep.
Fourth, Company X does not list any timelines on their scope statement other than to tell the readers that the project will be created by December 2010. In order to run a successful project, it will be important for stakeholders to see a timeline and to note important milestones. For instance, when will the game concept art be due? When will the scripting be complete? When will the product packaging be completed?
Also, there are no issues cited here. A preliminary risk assessment should be performed for consideration of potential financial risks to be accounted for in the budget.
Finally, there is no budget included. How much will it cost to create Bouncy Bunny Counts Money? How many employees will be required?
By taking the time to put together a good scope statement, your team can avoid some of the common reasons why projects fail in the long run.
This post is part of the series: Keeping Control of Project Scope
- Writing a Scope Statement
- Examples of Project Scope Statements
- Scope Creep vs. Scope Discovery
- PM Certification, Scope Management & Stakeholder Management
- How to Implement Scope & Change Control in Your Project