How to define the Scope of a Project?

How to define the Scope of a Project?

The process of collect requirements identifies all the essential requirements, but one can’t assure that all the requirements are mentioned or included in the project. But, the Define Scope process selects the final project requirements from the requirements documentation delivered during the Collect Requirements process. Hence, the project manager can develop a detailed description of the project and product which is called the Project Scope Statement.

Define Scope is a process of developing a detailed description of the project and product. The key benefit of the Define Scope process is that it describes the project's boundaries by defining which of the requirements collected will be included in the project.

The processes involved in the Define Scope process:

Define Scope - Inputs

  1. Project Charter

    The project charter is a document that provides the high-level project description and product characteristics. It also enlists all the project approval requirements. If a project charter is not being used to its fullest in any organization, then comparable information needs to be developed and used as a basis for the detailed project scope statement. In situations where the organizations do not produce a formal project charter for setting out common goals, rules and regulations they will usually perform an informal analysis to identify the content necessary for further scope planning.

  2. Project Management Plan

    Both project management and scope management plans have the same characteristics but whereas project management plan documents as to how the project scope will be defined, validated, and controlled.

  3. Project Documents

    Examples of project documents that can be listed as inputs for defining scope are as follows;

    1. Assumption Log

      The role of the assumption log is to identify the assumptions and constraints about the project, product, stakeholders, environment and other factors that can influence the project and the product scope.

    2. Requirements Documentation

      The process of identifying the list of requirements that are to be incorporated into the project scope.

    3. Risk Register

      The risk register mainly contains response strategies that may affect the project scope by reducing the project and the product scope to avoid or mitigate a risk that is to occur in the project.

  4. Enterprise Environmental Factors

    The factors which can influence the Define Scope process include:

    1. Organization’s Culture

    2. Infrastructure

    3. Personnel Administration

    4. Marketplace Conditions

  5. Organizational Process Assets

    The factors that influence the Define Scope process include:

    1. Policies, procedures, and templates for a project scope statement

    2. Project files from previous projects

    3. Lessons learned from previous phases and projects

Define Scope - Tools and Techniques

  1. Expert Judgment

    With regards to the technique of expert judgment, one has always to consult a group or an individual who has exceptional knowledge in dealing with similar projects.

  2. Data Analysis

    The best example of a data analysis technique that can be used in this process is alternatives analysis. This alternatives analysis helps in evaluating ways to meet the requirements and objectives that are identified in the project charter.

  3. Decision Making

    Multicriteria Decision Analysis is the best example of this particular process. Under this technique, a decision matrix is used to provide a systematic analytical approach for establishing necessities like requirements, schedules, budget, and resources to clarify the project and product scope further.

  4. Interpersonal and Team Skills

    An example of interpersonal and team skills is facilitation process. This process is mainly used in workshops and sessions happening with key stakeholders who are always high on expectations. The ultimate goal of this process is to reach a cross-functional and shared understanding of the project deliverables.

  5. Product Analysis

    Product analysis is used to define the products and services related to a particular project. The process includes asking questions about a product or service and generating answers to describe the use, characteristics, and other relevant aspects of what is going to be delivered.

    The following are the examples related to the product analysis process:

    1. Product breakdown

    2. Requirements analysis

    3. Systems analysis

    4. Systems engineering

    5. Value analysis

    6. Value engineering

Define Scope - Outputs

  1. Project Scope Statement

    Project Scope Statement is a detailed description of the project scope, which includes significant deliverables, assumptions, and constraints. It also documents the project scope and the product scope and describes the project’s deliverables and the work required to deliver them. Based on the level and degree of detail the project scope statement defines the work that will be performed, and the work that is minimized can help determine how well the project management team can control the overall project scope.

    The important components of the project scope statement include:

    1. Product scope description

      A method used to elaborate on the characteristics of the product that are defined in the project charter and requirements documentation.

    2. Acceptance Criteria

      A set of conditions that are required to be met before the final deliverables are accepted by the stakeholders.

    3. Deliverable

      Any unique and verifiable product that is required to be produced to complete a process, phase, or project.

    4. Project exclusion

      A method to exclude the feasible products from the scope of the project to help the project manager to manage the stakeholder’s expectations.

      Elements of the Project Charter and Project Scope Statement

      Project Charter Project Scope Document
      Project purpose Project scope description (progressively elaborated)
      Measurable project objectives and related success criteria Project deliverables
      High-level requirements Acceptance criteria
      High-level project description, boundaries, and key deliverables Project exclusions
      Overall project risk  
      Summary milestone schedule  
      Preapproved financial resources  
      Key stakeholder list  
      Project approval requirements (i.e., what constitutes success, who decides the project is successful, who signs off on the project)  
      Project exit criteria (i.e., what are the conditions to be met to close or to cancel the project or phase)  
      Assigned project manager, responsibility, and authority level  
      Name and authority of the sponsor or another person authorizing the project charter  
  2. Project Documents Updates

    1. Assumption Log

      The role of assumption log at this stage is to update the log with additional assumptions or constraints which were identified during the project process.

    2. Stakeholder Register

      The documentation that consists of all of the stakeholder's requirements that are to be met and also registers the important deliverables that are in the pipeline of the project manager.

    3. Requirements Documentation

      A method that is used to record the requirements of a particular project. This documentation will keep of all the deliverables that are met and the other deliverables that are to be accomplished by the project manager.

    4. Requirements Traceability Matrix

      A method that is used to compare the project's scope, requirements and deliverables are all the same when they are compared with the project's baseline that was created during the project management plan.

The Define Scope process takes the high-level product descriptions, assumptions, and constraints, which were documented in the Develop Project Charter process during the initiating process group, and develops from them a more detailed description of the scope in the Project Scope Statement. The project scope may not be entirely defined during the initial stage of determining the scope.

Aspects like additional risks, assumptions, and constraints arise during the project execution, so the project scope may be revised or updated as necessary as part of the iterative process of developing the project scope. The define scope process is a lengthy process that commences atop from the high-level requirements to detailed requirements of the stakeholders’ and are translated into significant deliverables. These major deliverables are set as the primary objectives for the project management team, and the team is asked to fulfill these requirements.


Know more about project management best practices through Invensis Learning’s Project Management certification training on PMP, CAPM, PRINCE2, Project Management Fundamentals, P3O, and MSP. We are a trusted training partner for Fortune 500 companies and Government institutions globally. For on-site group training, please e-mail us at

Request for Training

Phone number ( required * )

You may select multiple Courses
Live virtual classroom
Select your preferred mode of contact

By clicking "Submit", you agree to our Terms of Conditions, Privacy Policy.
© 2021 Invensis Inc.
  • PMI®, PMP®, CAPM®, PMI-ACP®, PMBOK® and the PMI Registered Education Provider logo are registered marks of the Project Management Institute. Inc.
  • ITIL® is a registered trade mark of AXELOS Limited, used under permission of AXELOS Limited
  • PRINCE2® is a registered trademark of AXELOS Limited, used under permission of AXELOS Limited
  • PRINCE2 Agile® is a registered trademark of AXELOS Limited, used under permission of AXELOS Limited
  • AgileSHIFT® is a registered trademark of AXELOS Limited, used under permission of AXELOS Limited
  • The Swirl logoTM is a trade mark of AXELOS Limited, used under permission of AXELOS Limited. All rights reserved
  • DevOps Foundation® is registerd mark of the DevOps institute
  • COBIT® is a trademark of ISACA® registered in the United States and other countries
  • CSM, A-CSM, CSPO, A-CSPO, and CAL are registered trademarks of Scrum Alliance
  • Invensis Learning is an Accredited Training Provider of EXIN for all their certification courses and exams