Scope definition is the process by which the client's requirements are transformed into the detailed description of the project deliverables. The scope definition documents may include technical descriptions of equipment and hardware, technical description of the software, and the details of size and capacity of the resulting system. Scope definition may also include quantified performance features of the final product, such as reliability, error rate, speed, response time, maintainability, and user friendliness.
The technical features of the project deliverables are recorded in text, formulas, code, flowcharts, and graphics. The verbal, quantitative, and technical definition of the project scope is followed by the development of a work breakdown structure (WBS) that highlights all of the discrete components of the product that the client will receive, separately or in aggregate, at the end of the project. A WBS is a uniform, consistent, and logical method for dividing the project into small manageable components for purposes of planning, estimating, and monitoring. A WBS will facilitate the process of integrating project plans for time, resources, and quality.
There are three basic types of WBS: deliverable oriented, task oriented, or resource oriented. A deliverable-oriented WBS is one where all or most of the elements are deliverables or quantified performance targets. Clearly, a deliverable-oriented WBS is the preferred and most useful form of dividing the project into manageable components. A deliverable -oriented WBS provides a framework for common reference for all project elements, for specific tasks within the project, and ultimately for better schedules and better estimates. A task-oriented WBS is one where some or most of the elements describe activities and tasks of the team members or stakeholders. A resource-oriented WBS is one where most or all of the elements refer to control accounts, departments, machinery, or team members .
A detailed WBS encourages a systematic project planning process, reduces the possibility of omission of key project elements, and simplifies the project by dividing it into manageable units. If the WBS is used as the common skeleton for the schedule and for the cost estimate, it will facilitate communication among the professionals who implement the project. Ideally, a WBS would be composed of deliverable-oriented elements up to three or four levels. These levels will include an inventory of the elements of the deliverable that the client would receive once the project is finished. In essence, this portion of the WBS will serve as a stylized visualization of the scope. It also will serve as the base of reference when deliverable components are added to, or removed from, the project (Figure 2.8). Below these deliverable levels, the WBS is extended another one or two levels with activities that the project team must perform in order to deliver each specific component of the project deliverable. If these element-specific activities are estimated and scheduled properly during the planning stages of the project, then managing a scope change is a straightforward task that consists of increasing the intensity or magnitude of the element-specific activities in response to the changed conditions.