Best Practices

What Is a Project Scope Statement? Examples & Advice

Jonathan Friedman
November 11, 2021
What Is a Project Scope Statement? Examples & Advice

Are you asking yourself, what is a project scope statement? Or, are you looking for project scope statement examples? Then you've come to the right place.

A project scope statement can seem like a very daunting experience. It certainly is if you're not sure of what you're doing.


Most people get lost in collecting information necessary to complete a scope statement, and that's due to a lack of understanding. In essence, a scope statement is easy to write as you make it. 


In this article, with project scope statement examples and advice, you will be able to compile a very efficient and transparent document that will help your project succeed. That's all that matters.


Below is everything we will cover. Feel free to skip ahead.


What is a project scope statement?


A project scope statement is a piece of documentation that outlines the work that must be executed and the work's details with complete transparency. The project scope statement's primary purpose is to help define what is in-scope and what is out-of-scope in the project.


A scope statement usually defines:


  1. A justification of the project
  2. A description of it
  3. The objectives 
  4. The deliverables
  5. The exclusions
  6. The limitations and constraints
  7. The assumptions


Project scope statements are often part of the Statement of Work (SOW), but they are just as common on an independent basis, leading to devise detail for further decision-making. 


Why scope statements matter?


Project scope statements play a crucial part in completing the project and its security as a full-fledged objective. A scope statement can mend or break relationships with clients. A scope statement can mend or break a lawsuit.


Bad Statements of Work lead to serious problems. A vaguely worded scope will lead to scope creep is a good side-effect. However, it can lead to a breach of contract, legal proceedings, and payment withholding as a bad side-effect.


With a precise and transparent statement outlining the timing and deliverables, the risk to the client's happiness and the success of the project is reduced drastically.


Thus, a bad scope statement can often ruin the likelihood of your project ever becoming successful. A scope statement must rule the items and assumptions out of scope.


If you don't understand your projects' intricacies in the work scope, you will be building up unnecessary tension throughout the project. From a project management angle, it's the part of the job that is least appreciated, most intricate, and best critiqued. However, it's all worth it, knowing that the reward is great than the sum of its parts.


If you're not writing a project scope statement to seek alignment with team members and clients, you're not doing it right. After significant consideration, you should end up with a document that you both legally agree upon. 


Project scope statement examples


To better understand the importance of a project scope statement, let's examine two project scope statement examples of a single part of the statement. You will quickly see that not only is one shorter than the other, but it is less informative.


A bad example


The "project management company" will build a website for Joseph's Pizza Co. This website is to go live in 2021 with full functionality, and it should show the offerings available for purchase online.


A good example


This Statement of Work's objective is to join the client's website presence with the business objective and retail sales growth. The "project management company" will provide an aesthetic user experience, development of the new website, creative redesign, and website discovery.


This relationship's primary goal is to show the personality and brand position while improving visitor engagement and interactivity. The "project management company" will work with Joseph's Pizza Co. to extend the existing functions of the website to:


  1. Increase branded content on the website with video, photo, and social integration
  2. Develop an eCommerce functionality for visitors to purchase pizza on the website
  3. Provision an expanded content page for visitors to get acquainted with the brand, product, and mission


Notice how much more defined the good example is. It helps present the vision that will unite the client and the internal team. 


An outline for your scope statement


The example above only relates to one part of a scope statement. Still, as we mentioned in the beginning, there are many parts to one, much like the standard who, when, what, why, where—for your project scope statement to be successful, you need to address seven aspects of it.


Justification


No project will start without a justification for its existence. You must begin your project scope statement by detailing how the result will solve this project's need.


An example of this can be customer feedback requesting a new function as part of your existing product. Any opportunity to develop something new, solve a problem, or fix one is a good reason for a scope statement.


Description of scope


It might seem easy to develop a description for your scope statement, but it's not like that. On a basic premise, you want to outline everything inside and outside of your project scope. 


This will ensure you have developed boundaries for the project to flourish. It also manages the input of your stakeholders and gives your team creative constraints to play around with.


Business objectives


Next, you must detail your business's objectives by defining the goals that you hope to achieve. This can cover customer satisfaction, first-time buyer quota, product launch goals, etc.

If it can be quantified and projected, it's probably a good idea to include it.


Deliverables


You will also need to outline the deliverables that your team will produce to meet the previously mentioned objectives. This can include instructions, press releases, marketing materials.


Also, it is the product itself and the outcomes of advertising campaigns. Deliverables can be anything that the team produces in relation to the outlined requirements.


Exclusions


While it's essential to define the boundaries from the get-go, it's also important to list the things not included in the project.


For instance, you can include restricted customer access to product features. You can also exclude updates planned for your project, intentionally excluding them at this point.


Constraints


The constraints of the project are one of the most challenging aspects of the statement to resolve. The primary constraints to effective project management are scope, timeline, and budget. They are all connected, so if you act on one of them, you act on all of them.


However, many other restrictions can appear at any time, such as organization, resources, method, risk, etc. List the constraints that you can foresee, as only then will you be able to devise solutions.


Assumptions


Project assumptions usually revolve around the same things that end up as constraints, such as scope, timeline, and budget.


For instance, in this part of the statement, you will list out, "customer support will receive new training by y time.", or "the development team will be made accessible during this time period."


It's essential to detail these kinds of things as they will not only tell your decision-makers what your resource needs are for the project to start, but they will also bring clarity to the most prominent risk factors.


Your scope statement outline will help you build out your document with ease. Because predicting a project's future is impossible, this outline is necessary to get your project aligned with a possible outcome as much as possible.


By starting to write your scope statement with the above seven aspects, you will be much closer to making this project not only a reality but a success. Take your time, and don't rush it.


How to gather and organize information for your scope statement


Even though you might already understand how to outline your scope statement, you might be faced with the trouble of finding the necessary information and input. However, this can be quickly resolved by the following steps.


Project requirements


It would be best if you began by developing a project charter. It should consist of the requirements of your projects in order of importance. It would help if you also determined the stakeholders who will have decision-making power on these requirements.


In essence, you need to communicate with the stakeholders to collect the project requirements. At this point, it might be a good idea to have an individual specifically tasked with collecting and describing the conditions. These people are often titled Business Analysts.


For large projects, you might want to develop a requirements traceability matrix. Research this in detail to understand how valuable it can be. You can also use pre-made XLSX templates.


Defined requirements, undefined scope


If you have your website's requirement having the function of email collection and automatic file response, what would it take to meet this requirement?


Well, you would first find a mailing service provider. Then you would create an account and develop your form for emails. You would also implement the form as part of a funnel or on your websites. 


Next, you could install a plugin that allows for file upload with your service provider for mailing. After this, you activate the form and split test it with a different design. 


However, this is an outline of the required action. To put this in the form of a deliverable package, it would like this:


Opt-in Email Form

  1. Report of mailing service providers
  2. Form design approved
  3. Test form on projected environments
  4.  Report of test results


So, how does one move from a one-liner requirement to detailed Scope of Work? First, you can find somebody who has relevant knowledge. This can be customers, stakeholders, matter experts, consultants. 


Your goal is to collect them from your project team and get in touch. They might already have solutions. On the other hand, you might get some advice.


Next, you can execute product analysis. You will focus on decomposing the value of the product. You will also need to analyze the functional and ergonomic viewpoints.


This will lead you to make decisions on materials and processes that will comply with the requirements outlined.


This technique focuses on decomposing product value. Just like WBS does with the scope. Define the deliverables of a tangible nature. 


Finally, you can try an alternative generation technique. This is great if you have expertise in the relevant project aspect. You find the best solution for the requirements to be met. 


In most circumstances, brainstorming will lead you to get the alternatives.

  

Manage project scope with software


Another thing you can do is to track your scope with software. For instance, Evernote, Notion, and Google Drive can help you.


However, it is only with integrated project management tools that you will reap the true power of technology. At the minimum, you should be able to link your requirements with deliverables. 


From deliverables, link them to related risks, estimates, and defects. 

If you're looking to make your scope statement close to perfect, you need software with time-tracking, invoicing capabilities, breakdown structures, and much more.


Controlling project scope


It's not enough to outline the project scope from the get-go. The scope will most likely change and adapt during the lifetime of the project. Thus, you need to be able to monitor, adjust and control the scope changes. 

To do this, you need a Work Breakdown Structure and a transparent workflow to help add changes to the project aspects whenever the quantity of work changes. 


In any case, this is a matter of management process. It would be best if you had a well-developed WBS. If you're running agile projects, a defined scope of iteration is even more critical. 


Agile does not save you from thorough detailing of work. Keep user stories and spring backlogs organized. Any newcomer should be able to understand what must be done.


Validating project scope 


Once in a blue moon, you will need formal permission on deliverables that meet stakeholders' expectations. It's crucial to keep formal communication in the project. 


Even if you devise a plan-driven task, it should not stop you from pushing increments of success for review. You never want to get your change requests, defects, and critique at the end. 


You will miss out on the opportunity to integrate change into your project. The closer you are to closure, the fewer resources you have leftover. Not to mention, stakeholders won't be as lenient to negotiate changes to timeline, scope or budget.


It's imperative to have an approved and clearly outlined project scope from the beginning. When deliverables don't meet requirements, corrections are necessary.


It's your responsibility to prove if a correction is a change request, and if such, it should be implemented correctly. Otherwise, it's a fault, and you need to make corrections at your own expense.


To validate the scope, you can push demo meetings. Prepare a demonstration of the deliverable and explain the project progress and status. Point out the defects and work-in-progress aspects.


Collect feedback from clients and provide reports/support documentation that is required by known policies.


Project scope management plan vs. project scope statement


The two do sound similar, and their project outcome is not far either, but project scope statement examples are different from scope management plan examples.


A scope management plan follows the project scope statement, and it details the project from point A to point B. Also, it helps define the work that has to be done through the course of the project. 


It also documents and monitors the phases to avoid scope creep (learn how scope creep occurs below) and helps with project closing. This includes project outcome assessment and deliverables audit.


Your scope statement will not be as involved. It's simply the mushroom cap for the mushroom stem of the management plan. It's a rubric for team members and stakeholders to follow.


Why does scope creep occur?


There is a myriad of ways in which scope creep can occur on any project. It's common for sponsor-level executives wanting not to be involved in all decisions. Thus, project teams must make them. 


Some change requests will appear small, but project teams often act on them and don't follow a formal change management process. A cumbersome control process that is inflexible can contribute to unauthorized scope change.


For many reasons, the project team will want to deliver more value and exceed expectations by adding unnecessary functionality. For instance, IT management often forgets to negotiate budget and time when requests for new changes are made. Thus, scope creeps.


Here are some of the reasons why scope creep occurs:


  1. No depth or clarity to the original specification of the project
  2. Clients wanting to get more work on the cheap
  3. Allowing unmanaged communication between the project team and clients
  4. Scope creep due to lack of planning and foresight
  5. Not defined initial requirements
  6. Early development of something without cost-benefit and requirements analysis
  7. Exaggerated promises by management, leading the team into challenging time-constrained situations


Scope creep natural, but the team should focus on high-priority functionality first to minimize it. Without this, your project is being built on the whim of various people. That's certainly not something you want to happen, especially if you have clients waiting for you to finish up.


Scope of work vs. project scope statement


There are very few things scope statements get mixed up with, and this includes scope of work. They do sound similar, but they are also different.

Scope of work is an agreement to execute between a client and consultant. It details the contract of work to be done, including:


  1. The timeline
  2. Milestones
  3. Results
  4. Reports of project progress


While the scope of work can be daunting to write, it outlines the project and not the plan to be followed. The scope statement fulfills that role by mapping out exactly what can be expected with the plan and project.


Practices for success in developing a scope statement


In terms of best practices for writing your project scope statement, you should avoid jargon-definitive language. You will communicate with man people across several specializations and departments, keep the language clear.


Also, it would help if you kept your wording short. Since the document assists buy-in from stakeholders, there will be lots of editing necessary before it's concrete. Please keep it simple and your verbiage free from clutter.


Stay clear of over-committed statements of your resources on the project. You don't want to promise something you won't be able to deliver.

Also, make sure you answer the justifications with clarity. The people involved need to know the benefits, what is being provided that doesn't already exist, and why it's better than something already on the market.


Conclusion


Now that you have gone through our project scope statement examples and read through our advice, you are well on your way to ensure that your scope statement is written well.


In any case, you will still have to go through some hoops, and you will be met with obstacles, but that will only reinforce the true nature of your scope. As long as you can assess data, adjust outcomes and resolve problems, you will succeed with your projects.


If you're ready to take your projects to the next level and provide exceptional results to your clients every time, then consider using TrueNxus for all your PM needs. You can try it for free today.