This paper was originally presented in 1987 at the PMI Northwest Regional Symposium, Portland, Oregon. It is copyright to Walter Wawruck© 1987-2006.
Published here October 2006.

Editor's Note | Introduction and Purpose of this Paper | The Definition of Project Scope
The Comprehensive Description of a Project | Work Done by the Project Management Institute
 Scope Management - Important But Neglected | PART 2

The Definition of Project Scope

This section presents a discussion of the features of the following definition and a comparison with alternative definitions.

Project Scope: The primary measure of project performance that deals with the client's requirements for function, capacity, and content is defined as follows: "The bounded set of verifiable end products, deliverables, or outputs that the project team undertakes to provide to the client (the owner or sponsor) of the project"

This proposed definition uses the word "scope" to designate the required products or results of the project. The choice of this word is justified by both etymological derivation and established usage among practitioners. Dictionary definitions of the word scope typically equate it to extent, range, or space for movement or operation. The notion of establishing a boundary on the extent or quantity of project outputs is certainly consistent with the intention in this case. The word derives from the Greek skopos meaning aim or object. Thus the specialized meaning proposed here is faithful to the original in its reference to the physical items and capabilities the team aims to create through the project and which are the objective of the project.

Through experience with practitioners in a variety of technical fields, and in the general literature of project management, the writer has encountered a myriad of labels that designate the agreed outputs or deliverables. These include: technical performance, scope, product, results, content, quality, function, quantity, and performance/quality. In construction projects and in the language of construction related specifications and contract documents, the word scope is widely used, accepted, and understood to represent the meaning defined above.

In the aerospace and defense manufacturing fields, the term technical performance appears to be most popular, and would be the writer's second choice. However, the plain meaning of this alternative term is less accurate and more ambiguous. The end product is not necessarily "technical," and the use of the word "performance" invites confusion with notions of successful performance (as in effectively realizing the project objectives) and with terms like "high performance project team" and "performance standards."

Throughout this paper, the term "scope" will be used to denote the project outputs as defined above. Alternative labels used in the references that are cited will be shown in parentheses. The proposed definition establishes the scope of a project as a standard by which the performance of the project team may be evaluated. Because it is determined through agreement with a second party, the project sponsor, it is objective as well as verifiable, and thus can be audited by an external reviewer.

Introduction and Purpose of this Paper  Introduction and Purpose of this Paper

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