- Project Management

Scope Definition as the Basis of All Work

Scope of work describes the work to be performed on any given project or task; it also sets a baseline, which can determine any variation from the proposed work to be done and the work done. Also, a scope of work or services becomes a legally binding document, which helps protect both the buyer and seller of services. In the scope of services, the work, as well as deliverables, are described in detail to clarify the project content, document the stakeholders’ expectations, and provide the project team and other stakeholders a part of a comprehensive road map, which will also include the budget, schedule, risk analysis plan and so on.

Scope Definition as the Basis of All Work
Scope Definition as the Basis of All Work

The best way to approach the scope definition process is to detail every aspect of the work while at the same time avoiding any potential for misinterpretation. And the best way to do this is by ensuring that all the work proposed is measurable in one way or another. For example, the project schedule may run for 12 months, and the client might want to meet with you regularly to discuss the project.

Therefore, it would be simple enough to include the following language in the scope: “the project management team will attend regularly scheduled meetings with the client for the project’s duration, which is estimated to last 12 months.” This scope language is very common, but it is not completely measurable, except for the 12 months.”

However, who and how many people constitute the project management team? The project manager is always included, but will the team leader also attend each meeting? If there are risk, contract, and procurement managers on the team, are they also part of the project management team that will need to attend each meeting? Who schedules these “regularly scheduled” meetings? Will it be the client? If so, can s/he perhaps schedule two meetings in a week or three to five per month, etc. Also, how long is each meeting? One hour?  Two hours? Or three hours?

Based on the previous paragraph, a better scope description might be: “the project management team, which includes the project manager and team leader, will attend project progress meetings with the client at their office every week. Each meeting will last one hour, and its agenda will be prepared by the consultant’s project manager and submitted to all scheduled participants at least 48 hours before the meeting date….”

As you will note, this sentence includes language about the work that is measurable, such as the number of participants on the seller’s side, as well as the meeting duration. Additionally, this sentence includes a deliverable, which is the agenda.

The key to efficiently and effectively defining scope is eliminating as much ambiguity as possible. This helps both parties – buyer and seller – understand what is expected in work performed. It also provides the necessary documentation should scope creep occur later in the project.

Scope Definition as the Basis of All Work

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