While obtaining my Project Management Professional (PMP) certification I really dug into one of the main process areas that I knew would help me in my job on a regular basis: scope management. I reflected back on how many failed or poorly executed projects could have been better if more attention had been paid to scope at the beginning as well as during the course of the project.

Scope can be defined in terms of both the product and project. Product scope refers to the features and functions that characterize a product, service or result. Project scope is the work that needs to be accomplished to deliver a product, service or result with the specified features and functions. Many times I was guilt of using the product scope as the project scope and that is where quality as well as other constraints like time and money suffer and cause problems.

Project scope tends to be defined at a very high level and discussed in detail on conference calls, emails, and other forms of communication. The challenge for any manager is to manage the scope using the following processes:

  1. Scope Planning: create a scope management plan that documents how the scope will be defined verified and controlled and how the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) will be created and defined. These are the grounds rules that everyone agrees, allows for control and point of reference to non-believers.
  2. Scope Definition: develop a detailed project scope statement as the basis for future project decisions. Drill down to detail level descriptions if necessary if you now how you want the final product to look and feel. Make sure it is clearly written and reviewed to answer any questions. Create a dictionary of terms if necessary to eliminate miscommunication.
  3. Create a WBS: subdivide the major project deliverables and project work into smaller, more manageable components. This is the dreaded tasks and Gantt chart in MS Project, but if done well it can be more help than harm.
  4. Scope Verification: formalize acceptance of the completed project deliverables. Not only gives you CYA protection but serves as a completion checklist against the WBS.
  5. Scope Control: control changes to the project scope. When asked, “can we add this?” every few minutes during a meeting your response should always be, “is it in the scope document?” If not then it is a change request that needs to be evaluated and review, approved and update the scope documents.

By having good scope management you can manage the team and necessary resources better. As team members come on and off the project you have their orientation materials ready for them to ramp up their knowledge. When dealing with demanding customers or stakeholders always wanting to get more, scope management is terra firma from which not to budge and get you in hot water.

How do you use scope management in your marketing projects?

Brian McDonald

Brian McDonald started Square Jaw Media to document strategies and techniques he had used over his experience working in marketing and communications since 1990. During this time Brian wrote about many of the exciting Raleigh social media events where great knowledge was being shared and tries to share some of the tips and tricks. . Read Brian's full bio.