5 Key Parts of a Scope Management Plan

As project managers we often find that we suddenly have so many new friends who want to help us to succeed in our project. They show interest and have many ideas for improvements and what they consider minor changes. As benign as this seems, it is actually one of the greatest dangers to a project. Remember the triple constraint? Scope is a key constraint and if it changes it has a big impact on the project. As project managers we have to manage the project scope on a constant basis. A well thought out and written scope management plan is a good place to start.

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You have stakeholders, managers, users, team members and so many others all wanting you to make seemingly minor changes to your project on almost a daily basis. They all seem to suddenly be your friend and looking out for your best interest. But they don't realize that the minor changes they want are actually scope changes to the project and will affect the schedule, cost or quality of the project. The best way to manage these requests is through a robust scope management plan. While we have an excellent scope management plan template available for free download, we would also like to highlight the five components we believe are key to the plan. The following five parts are key to an effective scope management plan:

  1. Approach
    The approach is an important part of the Scope Management Plan because it defines how the organization will manage the scope of a project and defines various aspects of the Scope Management Plan. Some of the information that should be contained in the approach is:
    • Scope management responsibility and authority (i.e. project manager or other designee)
    • How the scope of the project is defined
    • How and when the project scope is measured and verified
    • How changes in scope are conducted
    • Who is responsible for final acceptance of project scope (i.e. sponsor or other designee)

  1. Roles and Responsibilities
    Roles and responsibilities should be defined in all component plans but this is especially true in the Scope Management Plan. This is because project scope is easy to lose track of if not managed properly and things like scope creep may occur and throw the project completely off course. If roles and responsibilities are clearly defined, the project team and stakeholders are able to understand their part of ensuring that project scope is defined and remains on track throughout the project.

  2. Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
    The WBS breaks project deliverables down into more manageable pieces which allows a better understand of the work to be performed. These manageable pieces, at their lowest levels, are called work packages. The intent here is that once all work packages have been completed, the scope of the project is satisfied. That is why the WBS is such a key component of the scope management plan. Since project scope can become complex and difficult to understand, the WBS is a tool used to ensure simplicity and understanding throughout the project lifecycle. The WBS may be included as part of the Scope Management Plan or as an Appendix to the plan.

  1. Scope Verification
    Scope verification is the process the project team uses to verify that the project deliverables meet the requirements established in the scope baseline and that there is a formal acceptance process in place for these deliverables. This is an extremely important part of scope management because scope verification must be done throughout the project’s lifecycle, not simply once at the end of the project. By verifying scope in this manner, the project team can help avoid added costs and schedule delays associated with performing work that doesn’t contribute to meeting the scope of the project.

  2. Scope Control
    Scope Control is the process of continually measuring the project’s progress against the scope baseline and determining any variances between the two as well as acting on those variances when necessary. Scope creep is possibly the greatest hazard to any project’s success as uncontrolled scope changes are proposed and added to the project and work begins to spiral out of control. Scope Control is a necessary part of the Scope Management Plan because well-planned scope control practices, along with a well-defined scope baseline, can prevent scope creep from occurring and improve the likelihood of a successful project.

Need help with your Scope Management Plan? Download our free Scope Management Plan template and edit the document to fit your specific project. While you’re here please check out our other project management documents. We make it easier for you to manage your projects.