Every project has a defined set of boundaries under which it operates. This is known as the Scope. Scope has different pieces through which it is built. These pieces are ignored at the peril of the project as without having the proper definition, it can continue to get bigger and more expensive. As it grows, not only is the budget busted but the schedule slips further and further to the right. Proper planning will not only stop the slip before it begins, but ensure that the budget remains within an acceptable range.

So what are the pieces of a Project Scope? A project scope in general is the overall objectives of any given project. The pieces to a properly defined project scope, should be considered and specified at the beginning of the requirements gathering stage. These pieces are:

      • Justification
      • Objectives
      • Descriptions
      • Acceptance Criteria
      • Constrains
      • Assumptions

The Justification is exactly what it sounds like. It is the reasons behind doing the project. By writing them down, it provides a concrete reference for why the project is being done in the first place. This should be considered the why’s of the project.

The Objectives, again, is what it sounds like. This is the what of the project. It defines what the end goal is looking like. This will be considered the what’s of the project.

With Descriptions, things are getting less nebulous. This is a listing and overall descriptions of the functions and features of the project. It should also include everything that the project will do and model the expected outcomes. These are the how’s of the project.

With any project, there are expectations of quality. These details are enumerated as Acceptance Criteria, and can be considered an outgrowth of the project description. Each piece which goes into the overall project will have its own details and requirements from which Acceptance Criteria are drawn. Acceptance Criteria can cover a number of different items including but not limited to:

      • Target dates
      • Major functions
      • Capacity, accuracy and availability
      • Mean Time Between Failures
      • Development costs
      • Running costs

The constraints of a project will cover what restrictions are set for the project. These could be technical, resource or physical. Constraints are important for keeping the project within the original vision set forth under the Justification and Objectives.

Finally, there is the Assumptions which are made at the beginning of a project. This is what the project planners know or think they know about the project. By formalizing the assumptions a risk matrix for the project can be created. This will list the known known, known unknown and unknown unknown factors for the project.

By fully defining the Scope of a project, planners can identify the risks and benefits of any project. It also provides the Business Analyst or Systems Engineer responsible for the formal requirements decomposition some guidelines to work within. Perhaps most importantly it will enhance the projects ability to stay within budget and schedule by protecting against Creep, allowing for successful implementation.

If this article was useful to you, get the worksheet HERE