Introduction and Purpose of this Paper
Getting the right result is the predominant aim of project sponsors and project managers. Yet, the management of scope is a neglected topic both in the practice and in the literature of project management. Projects, once initiated, typically are not left incomplete or unworkable. The failure to manage scope is reflected in the consequent cost overruns and schedule delays. Poor scope management is manifested as runaway changes, which are attributed to indecisive owners and incompetent designers. Project managers excuse themselves from an aggressive role in controlling the evolution of the design configuration because it is classed as a technical issue, not a management concern.
The purpose of this paper is to set out a foundation of concepts and principles for the effective management of scope. As the first step towards this objective, the concept of project scope will be defined as the verifiable outputs or products of the project. The lack of an appropriate conceptual definition has contributed to the confounding of scope with the cost and schedule objectives of a project, and with the planned work effort. As a consequence, managerial action has been diverted from root causes to the symptoms of failed scope control.
Based on the concept of scope as results, the next step is to explore the appropriate role of the work breakdown structure (WBS). Foremost, the WBS is a tool for subdividing the scope; second, it yields a framework by which the planned work effort or resource allocations may be aggregated. Finally, management principles for the control of scope will be presented in the context of a normative, life cycle model that reflects the stages in the evolution of the design configuration of the end product. The principles deal with the guided elaboration of configuration detail, the establishment of baseline standards, the planned review of baseline compliance, and the control of changes.
The conceptual framework and the set of basic principles presented in this paper are a synthesis of the experience of practitioners and the formulations of theorists working in the field of project management. While the writer's own experience as a practicing project manager and consultant is reflected in the analysis and conclusions, an effort has been made to find authoritative references in support of each of the observations, findings, and recommendations presented. In this respect, the paper is intended to be a review of the literature that exists on the subject of scope management.
This paper is a response to a perceived gap in the literature dealing with scope management a primary component of the body of knowledge of project management as a discipline. The conceptual foundation and the bibliography of references presented here are intended to provide a starting point for subsequent investigators and authors, and thus to assist in overcoming this deficiency in our literature.