Project Scope Management

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Prior to the onset of modern project management, the success criteria of a project lay solely on the technical success, or scope of the resulting product or service. Today, adherence to budget and schedule form a triangle of success factors alongside scope, with client satisfaction also developing as a key determinant of project success (Kerzner, 2004). However, the delivery of project scope will always take precedence over all other project factors, because if a project fails to deliver on its original intention, need or functionality, the project will always be considered as a failure. This essay will analyse the adequacy of the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge’s (PMBOK) definition of Project Scope Management in relation to other literature, and explore the relevancy of the processes outlined in the PMBOK to all projects – both big and small.

When defining scope in the context of projects, it is important to contrast between product scope and project scope. Product scope refers to the features and functions that characterize a product, service or result, while project scope refers to the work that is needed to be accomplished to deliver the product, service or result with specified features and functions (Project Management Institute, 2008). Although the product scope is the desired end result of the project, or the what”, project scope considers the “how” and the wide range of processes, technologies and methods that can be used to reach the objective. Project scope management is a further extension to this and refers to the managerial processes or methodologies required to plan and execute the project scope

There are a significant number of definitions for project scope manegement with the same basic message. UTS (2006) describes project scope most concisely as “what the project contains or delivers” (UTS: Project Management, 2006). The PMBOK builds on this common understanding of project scope and adds three important features.

Firstly, PMBOK explicitly defines project scope as “all the work required, and only the work required to complete the project successfully”, which highlights the importance of clarity surrounding exclusions from the project. The intention of this reference is to highlight the importance of accurately defining scope during the initial planning phase of the project, and ensuring that the client is clear on what is and is not included in the project. By doing this, all parties are clear on the scope on which the project plans are based. Because a project manager must balance project scope, time, cost and quality to ensure project success, exceeding the agreed scope will negatively impact other project factors, such as cost overrun and project delays. ((Jordan, 2010) Quote)

Secondly, the PMBOK includes a process of “defining” the project scope in its definition. Unfortunately, in most projects, particularly complex ones, at the outset, there is a lack of clear understanding of what the project is trying to achieve (Turbit, 2007). The PMBOK includes scope or requirements discovery as a key process in project scope management. Here, business needs are converted into project objectives and project deliverables, which become the foundation for the entire project plan. Ideally, a project manager would receive a well thought out and well defined scope through the initial project brief, but in reality, this scarcely occurs, and a project manager must seek information to understand the true scope of the project.

Finally, the PMBOK includes the process of “controlling” in its definition. The PMI, through this inclusion, has accepted that the scope of a project is fluid and scope change is inievitable (Lijoi, 2008). In the project plan, the project manager has delicately balanced project scope, time and costs, and any additional changes to scope are likely to upset this balance and affect the other project measures. Change control involves ensuring changes to the scope of work...
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