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 November 2006.

PART 1 | Literature Search for Management of Project Scope
Disparity in Treatment of Scope - Compared to Cost and Schedule
Possible Reasons for Neglecting Project Scope Management
The WBS is a Scope Breakdown Structure
 Application and Use of the WBS | PART 3

Editor's Note

In Part 1, Walter Wawruck reviewed:
The Meaning and Purpose of Project Scope Management

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

In this Part 2, he reviews Project Scope Management in the Project Management Literature.

Literature Search for Management of Project Scope

In the search for references dealing with the management of project scope, as defined here, the writer examined the proceedings of the annual Seminar/Symposium of the Project Management Institute for the period 1975 through 1986, the Project Management Journal 1979 through March 1987, Adams and Kirchof's anthology of landmark papers starting in 1970,[32] and their annotated bibliography of all papers published in the Project Management Quarterly 1970 through 1980.[33] These sources are in addition, of course, to the books and publications listed in the references at the conclusion of this paper. Of the many papers and articles dealing with project control and project control systems, only a handful, as reflected by the citations in this paper, offered specific descriptions of principles, techniques, methods, or systems for controlling the scope of a project.

The writer's summary impressions of the literature examined now follow. Often the papers examined acknowledge the need for a baseline scope statement in some form (specification, statement of objectives, or user requirements, for example). Among the descriptions of tools and techniques, however, network planning and scheduling systems and controls appear to predominate. Cost controls and resource assignments seem to receive somewhat less attention while scope management, in comparison, gets scarce mention indeed. The need to have change control procedures in place is occasionally described, but details of such a procedure are almost invariably omitted. Systems and reports to monitor physical quantities actually installed or constructed during the implementation stage of a project are described in a minor proportion of the articles.

Drawing heavily on his personal experience as a source, Webster had prepared a list of 32 tools or techniques for managing projects.[34] He observes that too much emphasis on network-based techniques, to the exclusion of a host of others, is a major criticism of the project management literature. He classifies the kinds of information each of the 32 tools deals with as follows:

Type of Information

Number of Tools[35]



Cost and Resources


Scope (Technical Performance)


Webster's experience is consistent with the writer's own observation that very few of the available tools and techniques deal with information that supports the management of project scope.

Martin and Owens examined 404 papers in the Project Management Journal and the Proceedings of the Annual Seminar/Symposium of the PMI for the period 1980 through 1984. They made a systematic content analysis to identify the essential concepts and elements that those writing in the literature felt must be observed to attain project success.[36] They classified the observed references first according to the six categories within the PMBOK.[37] Unfortunately, they used a very broad definition of scope, encompassing within this concept the time and cost objectives. Further, they included cost and schedule monitoring as a component of scope management.[38] The following table is a reorganization of Martin and Owens' findings to bring the categories closer to consistency with the definition of scope proposed here:

Category and Component

Frequency of Occurrence


Time Management



51 percent

Cost Management



12 percent

Integrated Cost/Schedule Monitoring & Reporting*



17 percent

Scope Management


  • Problem Solutions



  • Scope Statement



  • Analysis Changes, Innovation



  • Quality Design**



  • Quality Inspection**



20 percent

* Included with scope management by Martin and Owens.
** From Martin and Owens's separate category of Quality Management.

The recast presentation of Martin and Owens's findings reinforces the observation that scope management is neglected in the project management literature when compared to time and cost management.

Martin and Owens express surprise that so few authors in their sample attribute success to a proper problem definition in the scope statement, while so many rely on subsequent monitoring.[39] The writer adds the observation that the monitoring to which they refer does not even deal with scope! They also note the infrequent reference to the control of changes, even though inadequate change management in their opinion is often at the root of cost overruns, schedule slippage, and substandard scope (performance).[40] They describe the low incidence of quality citations as a gap in the literature that must be remedied.[41]


32. Adams, J.R., and Kirchof, N.S. A Decade of Project Management. Drexel Hill, PA: The Project Management Institute, 1981
33. Adams, J.R., and Kirchof, N.S. Project Management in the 1970's An Annotated Bibliography of the Project Management Quarterly. Drexel Hill, PA: The Project Management Institute, 1981
34. Webster, F.M. Tools for Managing Projects. Project Management Quarterly June 1982, XIII, 2, pp47-48
35. Webster includes the WBS in his list of 32 tools, but does not indicate that it deals with information on scope (technical performance). The writer has corrected this omission by counting the WBS as the fourth scope management tool in the tabulation presented here.
36. Martin, D.M. and Owens, S.D. Essential Attributes for Project Success. Proceedings of the 1985 Seminar Symposium, Vol. 2 Drexel Hill, PA: The Project Management Institute, 1985, Ch. 1, 13 pp
37. Woolshlager, L.C. Scope Management. Project Management Quarterly Special Report August 1983, Drexel Hill, PA: The Project Management Institute, p12
38. Martin, D.M. and Owens, S.D. Essential Attributes for Project Success. Proceedings of the 1985 Seminar Symposium, Vol. 2 Drexel Hill, PA: The Project Management Institute, 1985, Ch. 1, pp6-7
39. Ibid, p7
40. Ibid.
41. Ibid, p9
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