What is a project scope?

A project scope, or project scope statement, is a tool used to describe the major deliverables of a project including the key milestones, high level requirements, assumptions, and constraints. The project scope statement is a useful tool for future decision making when new change requests are considered to modify the project scope.

It also defines the boundaries of a given project and clarifies what deliverables are in and out of scope. The following sections describe a project scope statement and show you how to use MindView to create a project scope statement.

Project Scope

Figure 1. Project Scope Mind Map.

An effective project scope includes the following items:

  1. The key project objectives
  2. Key deliverables
  3. Key milestones
  4. High level requirements
  5. Assumptions and Exclusions
  6. Any known issues or risk
  7. Stakeholder review and approval

Key Elements

Project scope objectives are the overall objectives that will meet your customers’ needs for the given product, service, or result. Project teams need to understand the project objectives as it provides a rationale for future decision making and enables teams to compare the current status to the original objectives within the project.

In the project scope mind map in Figure 2, the website redesign project had three key objectives including redesigning the current site for better search engine performance, improve product sales and help establish market leadership using a blog platform. Effective project objectives also indicate when the results are to be delivered and with cost estimates.

Project scope deliverables are the expected outputs of the project. Projects are executed to meet certain objectives and the deliverables from the project should support the objectives. It is helpful to conduct a brainstorming session to determine the specific deliverables that will result from the project.

Project scope milestones are zero-duration events that mark progress across the project timeline. In a web site design project, finalizing requirements, procuring web hosting, and finalizing the “look and feel” and launching the site make up the key milestones to measure progress. By identifying milestones, financial costs and project schedules can be better managed.

High Level requirements are the specifications for the project described at a summary level and usually include a technical description. Requirements usually have functional descriptions that project teams can implement.

For example, a requirement for a sales oriented website would include an email form to capture email addresses from site visitors for a monthly newsletter. Ensuring the website supports Flash driven videos via streaming media is another example of a technical requirement.

Assumptions and exclusions are the specific disclaimers and decisions about the project that are used to clarify project scope. It is important to clarify high level assumptions and define scope boundaries so stakeholders understand the scope of the project. By defining the project scope assumptions upfront, it generates conversation to further detail.

Known Issues or Risks is another useful section of a project scope statement that can be used to identify potential issues with a portion of the project’s scope. By identifying risks or issues, the scope can be further refined based on the known project challenge. It also helps identify risks early on in the project so the project team can respond accordingly.

Stakeholder review and approval is the final section of a project scope statement. In contract oriented organizations, formal stakeholder sign off may be required before proceeding to the next step in the project. In less structured organizations, mutual verbal agreement during a project scope review is sufficient. Regardless of the methodology, obtaining agreement is an important step as it formalizes the entire scope of the project.



Project Scope and Mind Mapping

Project scope statements are typically written using a Word document, however, PowerPoint presentation slides and mind maps can be used to define a project scope statement. Mind mapping is a useful method to define project scope since a scope statement is the result of multiple viewpoints.

Similar to building a work breakdown structure, a project scope statement can be developed in a brainstorming session. Mind maps are useful for facilitating brainstorming sessions due to the ease of use and visual thinking provided by mind mapping tools. Scope definition meetings can benefit from these mind mapping solutions.

Using mind mapping software like MindView will help project managers develop the sections of the scope statement and easily edit them after a brainstorming sessions. Since MindView easily exports to Microsoft Word, the formal scope statement detail can be further defined and distributed in the word processing format.

Developing the scope statement in a mind map format also serves as a visual representation of the major scope deliverables and serves as a key reminder during project execution.

How to Develop a Project Scope Statement with MindView

Developing a project scope statement in MindView is easy to do.


Project Scope Statement

Figure 2: Website Redesign Project

If you are starting out with a blank template:

  1. Click on the center node and enter the project name
  2. Press the Insert key six times to add six nodes
  3. Click on each node and name each Objective, Key Milestones, High level Requirements, Assumptions and Exclusions, Issues and Risks and Key Stakeholders respectively
  4. Save the file

Once you have a completed project scope statement template for the project, schedule a scope definition meeting with the key stakeholders. Including your project team members, business customers, project sponsors and any other team members who have a stake in the project.

    1. Open the project scope template using MindView.
    2. Allocate 10 minutes to brainstorm specific details for each of the various project scope nodes.
    3. As each ideas is announced, click the Insert tab to add a sub node and provide additional details.
    4. Clicking on the Text Note icon (Figure 3) will open a text editor where additional notes can be added to each node.
Project Scope Statement

Figure 3: Text Note in MindView

  • During the brainstorming sessions, remember to capture all the ideas and avoid editing. You can always edit the mind map after all the feedback is gathered.
  • Discuss each of the ideas and combine, refine and edit the ideas accordingly.
  • Export the mind map to Microsoft Word by clicking on the MatchWare icon and selecting Export – Microsoft Word – Quick Word export.

With the document in a Microsoft Word format, the details can be further detailed as appropriate. If the organization has a specific Word format, these sections can be quickly copied into the appropriate template.