If you’ve ever taken a trip without an itinerary, you know how quickly things can get out of control.
You’d be clueless about everything — where you’re headed, how you’ll reach the next stop or how long it’ll take.
That’s exactly what a project looks like without a clearly defined project scope.
A project scope captures the essential details about a project — like goals, timelines, stakeholders and risks — to guide you in the right direction from the start. It clarifies how the project will pan out with milestones, deliverables and metrics to track progress.
We’ve curated this detailed post answering what is a project scope with examples, best practices and a customizable template.
Let’s dive right in!
What is the project scope?
Project scope documents all the essential details for completing a project, such as:
It also defines what’s not included in the project to establish clear expectations — immediately.
Think of the project scope as a map guiding teams to the right destination.
Without a well-defined project scope, you risk driving off track and delaying your journey or, worse, never getting there at all.
Here's a great project scope example.
This timeline-based scope document marks all the milestones and deliverables, designating each deliverable for different teams.
Such a neatly planned project scope is an awesome reference point for everyone — so they can increase collaboration and decrease delays.
What to include in a project scope
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to creating a project scope, because every project has unique requirements.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t help! Here’s a list of a few must-have components to make your project scope as comprehensive as possible:
- Goals and objectives: Outline the targets you want to achieve through this project.
- Deliverables: Identify the main deliverables you want to create by the end.
- Milestones and timelines: Divide the entire project into smaller milestones and assign timelines to each milestone.
- Exclusions and constraints: Define what’s not included within the project to avoid the possibility of a breach of scope.
- Assumptions: List situations or challenges that might occur during the course of the project.
- KPIs: List the metrics to assess the project's success at different stages.
If this sounds like too much work, you need a documentation tool like Scribe to create an exhaustive project scope statement effortlessly.
Free project scope template
A project scope template serves as a roadmap for the project team, outlining the work that needs to be done, the resources required, and the timeline for completion. It can be used to establish clear expectations with stakeholders and team members, ensuring everyone is on the same page.
Use our project scope template to draft a project scope in seconds.
5 Reasons why you need to define a project scope
A clearly defined project scope brings everyone on the same page, prevents scope creep and sets you up for repeatable success. If you’re unsure of how a project scope document can help you achieve all this, here are five reasons to consider:
- Resource management: A clearly defined project scope allows managers to optimally allocate and engage all available resources, prevent conflicts and maximize team efficiency. It prepares the groundwork to get the best out of the team.
- Establish expectations: The project scope brings all stakeholders on the same page and explains what’s expected of them. It ensures seamless collaboration among all teams by informing everyone of their responsibilities and expected outputs.
- Prevent scope creep: A project scope limits the chances of going beyond the defined scope of work. It ensures that no party involved in the project can breach the scope and get extra work done.
- Define objectives and key results: You can lay down clear objectives and key results (OKRs) in the project scope to create airtight workflows for every goal. This also helps in tracking progress and iterating the strategy if required.
- Laser-focused direction: The project scope document acts as a single source of truth to guide the team to success. It prevents any unwarranted change in direction once the project is underway.
Besides all these project documentation benefits, the scope also streamlines the decision-making process. Managers can fall back on this document to carefully weigh every decision and make the final call strategically rather than relying on guesswork.
How to write a project scope: 7 Actionable steps
A lot is riding on the accuracy of your project scope. The details you include in your scope decide how well you can complete the project—either successfully or unsuccessfully.
If you’ve never worked on the scope of a project before, we’ve created a list of seven steps to help you write a project scope document for all types of teams and projects. Let’s break down these steps:
1. Establish measurable project objectives
Imagine running a race with no finish line. You’ll keep running hundreds of miles without ever finishing it. Sounds like a nightmare, doesn’t it? That’s exactly what a project will feel like without any objectives.
Objectives define a finish line for you to complete the project. Measurable objectives tell you whether your project succeeded or failed.
Establishing measurable objectives is the first step to creating an airtight scope document. One of the project documentation best practices is to involve all stakeholders in the goal-setting process.
This helps in getting maximum buy-in and avoiding conflicts in the future. Remember to keep your goals brief and actionable — inspiring the team to consistently perform their best.
2. Define crucial project details
Once you've done the legwork to establish project objectives, start listing all essential details within the project scope. This includes elements like:
Final set of deliverables
Identify the deliverables you want to produce by the end of the project. While the project objectives clarify the targets your team has to meet, this list of deliverables is the resources/results you'll produce to reach these targets.
If your project goal is to increase organic website traffic by 10 percent, the project deliverables can list the number of blogs, backlinks and social media posts needed to achieve this target.
Here’s the perfect example showing how it’s done. This project scope explains the project summary and outcomes. It also lists three concrete deliverables for the team to complete by the end of the project.
A resource management plan is a critical part of the project scope. It analyzes the resources you have at hand and presents a strategy to optimally use these resources without over or under-utilization.
This initial assessment of resources also gives you a fair idea of the team’s total capacity to decide the timelines for project completion.
A resource management plan helps you:
- Delegate responsibilities effectively in a balanced way.
- Choose realistic timelines to prevent overworking.
- Improve forecasts about team bandwidth for the future.
But managing resources is not a one-and-done process. After reviewing all available resources at the start of the project, it’s equally important to monitor and adjust these resources as the project continues.
Potential challenges & constraints
Every team faces some obstacles while working on a project. A good project scope factors in potential challenges and proposes feasible solutions to tackle them.
Here are the three main constraints facing most teams:
- Time: falling behind on deadlines to complete the project due to expected/unexpected events.
- Scope: breaching the original scope to include additional goals in the project.
- Cost: crossing the defined budget for the project leads to a cash crunch.
You have to think ahead and proactively prepare for these constraints. Once you foresee a possible challenge or risk, include a backup plan to recover from the situation and avoid derailing the project.
Timelines are a crucial part of the project planning phase. These timelines decide the milestones and dependencies for any team—essentially explaining when they are expected to complete/achieve what.
Timelines are best presented in visuals, like this project document example. When you set milestones with different timelines, the team will know what to prioritize and when. It’ll also help them track if they’re falling behind on any milestone.
Collecting all these project essentials is easy with Scribe Pages. Create a single page dedicated to jotting down all crucial details about your project, like this. You can also embed individual Scribes, videos or gifs to add visual content — like this.
3. Identify & designate stakeholders
Completing the second step will create a solid foundation for your project. The next step is connecting the dots to identify your stakeholders. Identifying and engaging the stakeholders early in the project means you can fully understand their expectations and get their buy-in. It also helps in making any modifications to the project goals and deliverables.
Typically, every project has two types of stakeholders:
Internal stakeholders: These are the people within the organization. Internal stakeholders include various roles, such as:
- Project managers are responsible for planning, executing and analyzing the project.
- Project sponsors are responsible for managing and providing the resources required for execution.
- Teams are responsible for different aspects of the project.
External stakeholders: These are the people outside the organization who aren't directly involved in the project but will be affected by the results. This category includes the:
- End users.
- Anyone affected by the project's outcome.
You can approach external stakeholders for their input on any part of the project. Internally, you can designate the right roles to build seamless coordination and increase efficiency.
4. Design a schedule & roadmap
A project roadmap shows you the best route from the starting point to the finish line, covering all the turns and twists on the way. It strategically presents the deliverables, timelines and milestones for the entire project in a graphical view, like this one.
This roadmap — designed using Roadmunk — visualizes the project’s progress in different quarters of the year. It maps the milestone-based phases and deliverables from each member of the three teams involved.
Each deliverable also has a progress bar to convey the completion rate. This exhaustive document gives stakeholders a complete summary of the project in a single view.
A good project roadmap includes:
- Milestones: to divide the overall objectives into smaller goals to be achieved in different phases.
- Deliverables: to define the results all the internal teams are expected to produce.
- Timelines: to establish deadlines for all deliverables required to finish each milestone.
- Dependencies: to clarify how completing every deliverable will affect the larger scope of work.
- Resources: to list the resources designated for different parts of the project.
A roadmap is the best way to show internal stakeholders what they’re expected to do and to give external stakeholders an update on what’s done. It’s a handy solution to assess your progress and chalk out a way to move forward.
5. Draft the project scope statement
You're all set to draft the project scope when you reach step five. And here's the best part: you just need to compile all the information you've collected in the first four steps to creating a solid project scope document.
Making a project documentation template is one way to make the process faster and the results more uniform. Here are a few must-have elements to include in your project scope:
You can build out your entire project scope in a few seconds using Scribe Pages. Here’s a project scope example designed on Pages to show you how. Create a template (or duplicate this one) with sections for all the main elements. Customize this template for each project and fill in the details. You’re ready to roll!
Scribe automates project documentation to save time and help you focus on more important parts of your job.
6. Create a change control framework
A change control process is a must-have for larger, more complex projects. When a project involves many stakeholders, discrepancies and conflicts will happen.
A change control framework can help address these issues strategically and avoid a major crisis. This framework lays down the process for the submission, review and approval of requests for a desired change in the project scope.
You can design your own framework for submitting and reviewing change requests. Here’s an example of teams maintaining a change log to incorporate changes in their project scope using Asana. Each submission comes with relevant details like the assignee, deadline, priority status and change type for ease of documentation.
7. Review & revise the scope
Once you're done with the project scope, it's time to review the document for any possible loopholes and errors. This step is crucial to make your scope statement completely foolproof and actionable. Since it's challenging to change the scope once the project starts, think of this as the final opportunity to create a successful scope document.
So, share the scope with all stakeholders and collect their feedback. Carefully analyze everyone’s inputs to identify any common concerns or repeating suggestions. Iterate the scope as per the feedback before rolling it out to the entire team.
Why you need project scope management
Project scope management is the overall process of documenting necessary details for a project, like objectives, resources, deliverables, timelines and more. This process results in a comprehensive project scope document.
A project scope management plan helps managers:
- Figure out the need for this project and establish the right goals.
- Identify the main stakeholders involved internally and externally.
- Create a list of responsibilities for all the teams working on the project.
- Prepare a work breakdown structure to define the flow of work.
- Establish a review and approval process for all deliverables.
This process is mainly about keeping the project within the defined scope. Project managers map the available resources to the required deliverables for achieving the overall objectives.
Handle project documentation like a pro with Scribe
Managing the many moving parts of a project can become overwhelming if you don’t have a well-defined project scope. The scope statement breaks down the bigger picture into smaller milestones and deliverables, creating a more achievable route to success.
Creating a project scope document is a breeze with a documentation tool like Scribe. Scribe can templatize the planning process to speed things up and create consistent outputs.
You can also use our project scope template to effectively communicate all the details with your stakeholders.