Project Management

How to successfully execute the scope management phase of a project

Executing the Scope Management phase of your project will allow you to create and maintain the Scope Statement that outlines the deliverables you need to produce by the end of your project. Here are the steps involved.

There's very little that you can do before the start of a project without first defining the project scope. It's an interesting process to go through if you're used to the type of organization that many of us face these days. Executing the Scope Management phase of your project will allow you to create and maintain the Scope Statement that outlines the deliverables you need to produce by the end of your project. This phase also helps you as the project manager by ensuring and communicating that only the work that is defined in the Scope Statement is actually executed.

Step 1: Planning

Most organizations that have any type of Project Management methodology have their Organization Process Assess (OPA) available to the PMs in the company. This, along with your Project Charter and a Preliminary Project Scope Statement, are going to help you go a long way to getting this part off the ground.

When you've finished the planning step, you will have created your Scope Management Plan. Your Scope Management Plan defines how you will document, refine, verify and control the project scope.

Step 2: Definition

The next step would be the scope definition. At this point you should be spending time with all the relevant participants of your project and doing in-depth interviews to define the project requirements. The scope will be defined by understanding the needs and expectations of your project stakeholders and then prioritizing those results accordingly.

This is also a good time to discuss some of your alternatives, in case they need to be captured for your documentation. After you've completed your scope definition, you should be able to finalize your project scope statement, which will be helpful later on when making future project decisions and maintaining a common understanding of the project goals.

Step 3: Creating the WBS

A well-formed Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) should be focused on project deliverables rather than the associated tasks. By not treating your WBS as a checklist of all the things that you need to complete (that's what your project plan will help you with) you can focus on its original intent, which is to help you organize and define the overall project scope.

At its lowest level in the hierarchy, your WBS should be built of work packages that will allow you to accurately estimate your project costs while also enabling you to create a project schedule.

Step 4: Verification

Scope Verification is where you achieve formal acceptance of your project scope by the appropriate stakeholders. You normally achieve this level of acceptance by going through the Inspection process. Inspection is a technique by which you provide your customer insight into what you have completed by means of a walkthrough. It's an effort to ensure work deliverables will meet their requirements as well as any relevant product acceptance criteria that has been defined.

Step 5: Control

Any changes to your project should be funneled through your Integrated Change Control Process (ICCP). The Scope Control process is where you address anything that may affect the overall project scope.

The project manager needs to evaluate any changes that are raised to see how they impact the project. They should then recommend corrective actions. .Since changes could affect areas such as your scope statement, WBS, baselines, or even your OPA, it's imperative that the process is followed and you mitigate the potential for scope creep.

In the end don't forget that your project scope is a living, breathing document. Things come up in the Monitoring and Control phases of every project and they need to be addressed in your scope statement. If you have a strong scope management plan, you've already taken one big step in the right direction.

Bill Stronge is a PMP certified Project Manager with a Global CPG organization currently focusing on eBusiness projects. During his 14+ years he has worked on enterprise wide applications in both a developer and architect role as well as a project manager leading teams of various sizes. He can be reached for questions at


Most places I have worked from Microsoft to small software companies don't run this way. These "solutions" never take into account the human element. I don't know how many times someone with political "juice" has sabotaged the software process by getting one of their "pet" features shoe horned into a project regardless of any redeeming value or any reprocussions to the overall project.

Steve Romero
Steve Romero

Nice comments clearing up the semantics. I just love hearing the word process. The 5 steps are great and I would like to add a tip in successfully managing scope control. In addition to providing the methodology and quality assurance of the scope management process, make the PMO (if you have one) responsible for approval oversight of the scope change process. This frees the project manager from being the obstacle to project change requests(good cop) and makes the PMO the enforcer of scope control (bad cop). This is a great opportunity for the PMO to be a partner in project success and an asset to the Project Manager. Steve Romero, IT Governance Evangelist


Scope Management is not a Project Management Phase nor a Delivery Process Phase. It is a process, (and PMBOK Knowledge Area) that should be exercised by all PMs during the entire course of any project/program. J.C.Radcliffe, PMP


I agree with Radcliffe. Scope is a process. It should be exercised in all five phases of, initiation, planning, execution, monitoring & controlling, and closing. V Shroff, PMP.

Bill Stronge
Bill Stronge

Hi Jeff. You are absolutely correct that it is indeed a process and not a phase. Thanks for picking up on it.


Perhaps the title should have been "How to successfully execute Project Scope Management". While Radcliffe is correct that it is not a phase (it is ongoing). According to PMBOK (3rd edition), it is not a process in of itself, but a group of process ((Scope Planning, Scope Definition, Create WBS, Scope Verification, Scope Control)see page 103). The only reference I can find that Project Scope Managment is a process is in the figure heading on page 102. In the authors defense, I have seen Project Scope Management defined as a phase (outside of PMI). The best/only definition I could find (not PMI) is: Scope Management: A plan which describes how project scope will be managed. So what is the actual definition?

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