Defining Project Scope


In the book, ‘A Systematic Approach To Getting Results’, writer Surya Lovejoy identifies eight standards or tests which a project must meet in order to be fully scoped. The tests work as an useful and practical check-list for the Project Manager to help define what the project is and perhaps more importantly, what the project is not.

The success of your project rests upon the foundation which is your project scope. Without a clear understanding of what is to be achieved, by when, by whom, for whatever reasons and with what resources the project is doomed to failure almost before it begins.

If your project has been sufficiently well designed it should pass the following eight tests:

1. The Stakeholders Test

Stakeholders in the project have been consulted;

Customers – how will our project affect customers? Is the project actually focused on delivering
greater value to your customers? Does the project objective take into account the customers

Project team – has the objective been written in a way which is meaningful for the individuals who will
comprise the project team?

Authority – have those with the authority to provide the support and resources for the project been
consulted? Have the benefits of the project been clearly explained to them? What type of authority do
you need? e.g. negotiable authority.

2. The Purpose / Benefits Test

Is the purpose / desired outcome specific? Are reasons for carrying out the project compelling? Would
all stakeholders see the benefits to themselves? Can the benefits of completing the project be backed
up by relevant facts / figures?

3. The Resource Test

Time – have you analysed and accounted for the amount of time required to complete the project? Is
the deadline set?

People – how much staff time is required to complete the project? What skills / knowledge are
required? How do our current staff measure up to the job requirement?

Authority – do you have the necessary authority to see through each stage of the project? Do you
need to recruit the backing of more senior people? What type of authority to you need?

existing authority – that which you already possess as a manager

negotiable authority – short term authority or co-operation of others

improved authority – special authority from a senior manager

Money – how much will the project cost? How much money do we have to spend?
Other resources – consider office space, transportation, IT equipment / software, other technical /
capital equipment (anything from telephones and desks to industrial machinery).

4. The Responsibilities Test

Does the objective make it clear who does what? Does the scope document name individuals, teams,
department etc with specific responsibilities? Are there any ambiguous pronouns e.g. it, they, them

5. The Measurement Test

Do you know how you will measure your progress? If we are aiming to deliver 90% of customer
orders by 12 noon next day then how do we know we are achieving this? What measures can we put
in place to assess “soft” factors such as customer satisfaction e.g. specific research? Does the
objective become a specific target for improvement i.e. a numerical target and a method of

6. The Means Test

Do you know how the desired results will be achieved? Is your strategy based upon sound
information? Is your strategy the one most likely to succeed (in terms of quality and cost)?

7. The Alternative Means Test

Do you have alternative strategies for achieving your objective (should the first one fail or be deemed
inappropriate)? Do you have a priority list of alternatives (taking into account quality, targets and cost
and time constraints)?

8. The Presentation Test

Is my objective and scope presentable (to team and senior management)? Is it jargon free? Are there
any untested assumptions? Are you confident to stand by the project?

Once the project scope is defined, you are ready to move onto project planning.


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