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 Comprehensive Description of a Project

The undertaking by a project team to carry out a project for a client is comprehensively described in three categories:

  • Scope: The required set of end results or products with specified physical and functional characteristics; the outputs
  • Deadlines: Dates by which the results are due
  • Budget: Upper limits on the inputs, i.e. money or other scarce resources that may be consumed in creating the results.

These three objectives or performance standards are shown on the left hand side of the table presented in Figure 1. The choice of these three measures as tests of success is consistent with Cleland's contention that project success is meaningful only if the scope (technical performance) objective was obtained on time and within budget, and provided that it made a contribution to the strategic mission of the enterprise.[10] Satisfying the latter criterion normally is not an exclusive duty of the project team. These measures also agree with McCoy's proposal that project performance be measured against an integrated baseline which incorporates criteria that cover "all three dimensions of a project (i.e. cost, scope and schedule)"[11] McCoy goes on to define scope as "operability," which in turn means:

"... the design criteria, performance criteria, and tangible products of the project effort as documented in the engineering reports and technical specifications".[12]

McCoy does not explicitly identify an agreement between the project team and the client as the source of authority for the integrated baseline, but does speak of "approved funding authorization documents."




Ends, Aims, Targets,
Goals, Baseline
Performance Standards


Means, Methods, Plans
Management Intentions

SCOPE - Results
TIME - Deadlines
COST - Budgets


Configuration designs
Working Schedules
Estimates, resource assignments



Project Manager's

Figure 1: Three measures of effective project performance and some corresponding means for achieving success

The objectives of scope, time, and cost shown in Figure 1 include both objectives and goals, as defined by Cleland. These are the second and third highest layers of his pyramidal model. Together with the organizational mission, the topmost layer, they constitute the triad of organizational direction," and by implication, they have the authority of approval from outside the project team.[13] On the right hand side of the table in Figure 1 are strategies decisions made within the project team regarding design configurations, courses of action, and resource allocations as means of achieving the goals and objectives.

Martin and Webster agree that bringing a project to completion within the cost, schedule, and scope (performance) objectives contained in the project charter (a document authorized by the sponsor) satisfies the general criteria for success.[14] However, they go on to suggest that how well risks were assessed, and how the form of contract with sellers was chosen are also evaluation criteria.[15] These kinds of choices are clearly what Cleland would call strategies.[16]

Stuckenbruck similarly acknowledges that the achievement of the goals and objectives is a measure of project success, but observes that there may be stakeholders, other than the client or customer, with different criteria for success.[17] The concern in this paper is with identifying the dimensions or measures of successful performance which should be agreed upon between the client and the project team, and which are objectively verifiable. It appears all of the criteria that Stuckenbruck lists as potential client requirements can be incorporated in the measures of scope, time, and cost outlined in this paper. The project manager, the team members, and the project manager's employer (in the case of a contractor organization) all may have their own objectives, explicit or hidden, which may or may not be compatible with the client's requirements as reflected in the project charter. It is not intended to address these other objectives or to formulate a more global measure of project success in this paper.

<a href="../guests/scope/definition.htm">The Definition of Project Scope</a>  The Definition of Project Scope

10. Cleland, D.I. Measuring Project Success: The Owner's Viewpoint. Proceedings of the 1986 Seminar/Symposium Drexel Hill, PA: The Project Management Institute, 1986, p6
11. McCoy, F.A. Measuring Success. Establishing and Maintaining a Baseline. Proceedings of the 1986 Seminar/Symposium Drexel Hill, PA: The Project Management Institute, 1986, p47
12. Ibid, p48
13. Cleland, D.I. Pyramiding Project Management Productivity, Project Management Journal, June 1984, XV, p88
14. Martin, D.M. and Webster, F.M. Contract Type and the Measurement of Project Success. Proceedings of the 1986 Seminary/Symposium Drexel Hill, P.A. The Project Management Institute, 1986, 166
15. Ibid, p171
16. Cleland, D.I. Pyramiding Project Management Productivity. Project Management Journal June 1984, XV, 2, 90
17. Stuckenbruck, L.C. Who Determines Project Success? Proceedings of the 1986 Seminar/Symposium Drexel Hill, PA: The Project Management Institute, 1986, 93
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