Once the project charter has been developed to a level where it could be signed off, the next thing to do is to develop the Project Scope Statement. A couple of observations are needed here to explain how and why to ensure that this is not bureaucracy gone mad. Developing your understanding of scope in partnership with the sponsor and other stakeholders is nothing more than the first step in project planning. Scope is a critically important part of project management, and planning, so it is split out in PMBOK's project integration flowchart as its own step, because it is so important in real life. But if your project is one where scope is well defined in the charter, which could be because the project is small or is of a familiar type, or simply because everyone is clear what it is, then you can ignore this step. It may also help to think of the scope statement, even in its preliminary form, as merely a section of the project plan. It is the first section you should write, because it defines everything else that you will write.
Scope is vital to project management, and 'scope creep' has killed more projects than anything else. Even if you are clear in your mind what the scope of your project is, it needs to be documented so that it can be communicated to others, and ideally key stakeholders, and the project steering committee if there is one, should sign off the scope statement.
Scope means the boundaries of the project, including the methods of acceptance that are to be applied to deliverables. There are three sources of information to use as input to the preliminary scope statement:
The project management team work on the preliminary scope statement to refine and improve it. It is called 'preliminary' because that is the version that gets signed off in the initiating phase of the project, and becomes input to the planning phase. In the planning phase the scope statement is further refined, and becomes part of the plan. Of course, after the project plan is signed off in the planning phase of the project, the scope may still change throughout the project, but changes are then controlled as part of the integrated change control process.
Why spend so much effort on a scope statement? Apart from creating the document called the preliminary scope statement, the main outcome is to ensure that the sponsor and project manager, and other key stakeholders, have the same understanding of the project's scope. It is quite normal in the early stages of a new project for individual understanding of scope to keep changing greatly. If you are the project manager or sponsor or a stakeholder and see the scope changing very fast in the early days of your project, this is normal. What's happening is that your understanding, and that of others, of the scope is developing. The process of producing a preliminary scope statement helps to ensure that the associated dialogue is efficient and structured. Scope definition is critical to the success of the entire project, and it must be established before starting the planning process.
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