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

Walter Wawruck, P.Eng., MBA, is a Vancouver, BC, consultant specializing in project management services. Since 1971 he has participated in the management of a wide variety of projects - ranging from computer systems development to Arctic pipelines - either as a senior member of the management team or as a consultant. Walter has been an active member of the Board of the West Coast Chapter of the Project Management Institute and was project manager of the PMI Northwest Regional Symposium in 1984. He has also participated in the technical affairs of the American Association of Cost Engineers. He can be reached at

Editor's Note

This paper, originally presented in 1987, was a landmark work at the time because it helped to redirect the understanding and thinking of the day about project scope management. It discusses the importance of scope management, including what it means and how it influences the traditional project management topics of cost and schedule. It also points to the lack of treatment of scope in the literature, and how project managers may be putting their efforts and influence in the wrong place. Interestingly, some twenty years later, many of Walter's observations are just as relevant today.

As Walter observes at the end of this Part 1:

"Achieving the right results ... [i.e.] scope objective, is the primary test of effective performance by project management. It takes precedence over the constraints of deadlines and budgets. ..."

Other telling observations by Walter include:

"Scope management has been neglected because project managers tend to regard decisions about the features and components of a product as "technical" issues, and hence the exclusive province of specialists ... It is very proper that they take professional responsibility for their recommendations. [However,] It is the project manager's duty to ensure that the work of the creative professional is examined for fidelity to the client's requirements and for compliance with the agreed standards of quality"[1] and "The purpose [of design reviews] is to evaluate the decisions taken by technical specialists - not to review the correctness of the technical work."[2]

"Achieving the right results ... [i.e.] scope objective, is the primary test of effective performance by project management. It takes precedence over the constraints of deadlines and budgets"[3] and "Each of the [project] goals should be stated in terms of the desired end result or end condition ... to ensure that the focus is on results, not activities."[4] However, "[Unlike cost and schedule] There is no convenient single indicator of performance when it comes to scope."[5]

"Each stage [in the project life cycle] is a further step in the evolution of the configuration of the deliverable end result. The progression is from a set of user or client requirements to a functioning product, system, or facility. The stages, in other words, trace the evolution of the project scope."[6] But "The act of subdivision [in the WBS] should never change the scope of an element or configuration item; it merely expands the detail through elaboration."[7]

"Scope changes are amendments to the requirements statement and represent a change in project objectives. A change in scope is grounds for an accompanying change in deadlines and budgets."[8] And "An insufficient definition of the nature and configuration of the desired end product, ... and failure to manage changes ... are ... management errors that drive up the originally estimated volume of work and consequently cause cost overruns."[9]

All of which is why we have obtained his permission to re-publish his work here. The paper is presented in three parts as follows:

Part 1: 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

Part 2: Project Scope Management in the Project Management Literature

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: A Framework for Controlling Scope

The Life Cycle Model
Evolution of Scope
Baselines and Freezes at Milestones 3 and 4
Baselines and Freezes: Milestones 5 through 8
Design Reviews
Managing Changes
Summary of Project Scope Management Principles

1. Wawruck, W.A., Managing the Scope: A Neglected Dimension of Effective Performance on Diverse Projects, Proceedings of the 1987 Northwest Regional Symposium, Portland Oregon, Project management Institute, May 1987, p209
2. Ibid, p219
3. Ibid, p203
4. Ibid, p202
5. Ibid, p207
6. Ibid, p213
7. Ibid, p212
8. Ibid, p220
9. Ibid, p204
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