Project managers are tasked with the important job of planning and executing company projects to completion. They must describe the scope, deliverables, potential risks, and contingencies, then keep the entire process within budget. So, what happens when a project manager dives into a project without defining the scope? Something called project creeps happens, which can waste a lot of time and resources. All this can be avoided by using a Project Scope Template. Read on to learn more.
What Is a Project Scope?
Project scope is a document that outlines project deadlines, deliverables, and budget, giving the project team a clear and full view of what the project entails. It is usually prepared by the product manager then reviewed and signed by company executives and project stakeholders before the work begins. Bypassing this document, the team and stakeholders get on the same page about expectations.
What Is a Project Scope Template?
A project scope template is a fillable document that you can use to establish the tasks, deliverables, and budget involved in a project. By completing it, you can define all the tasks that must be completed through the project, the expected end products, and the possible limitations.
Project Scope Templates & Examples
Essential Elements of a Project Scope Template
Think of project scope as a summary of all the activities, products, and finances involved in a given project. For maximum effectiveness, this document must contain the following details:
- Deliverables – The deliverables refer to the product or services the clients will get at the end of the project. It is very important that the stakeholders and project team agree on this aspect.
- Timeline – The timeline tells the client exactly when they should expect to receive the deliverables. It includes the beginning and end dates of every milestone and the project as a whole.
- Milestones – Milestones refer to important stages in the project that mark a significant accomplishment. You should divide your project into several accomplishable milestones and mark them to keep your team motivated.
- Reports – These are regular updates made to the client and project team about the progress made in the project. It reports on the number of milestones achieved and whether the project is running within budget.
- Budget – This is where you tell the client how much the project will cost.
How to Write a Project Scope
While a project scope is an invaluable tool in any project, creating one from scratch every time can be daunting and time-consuming. Fortunately, you can create one uniform Project Scope Template, which you can customize every time you need to describe a particular project. You can then use the template and the following guide to prepare your project scope:
Step 1: Create a Rough Draft
Begin by creating a rough draft of the scope and including the elements described above. You must then add the following key details:
- Project name
- Project manager name
- Purpose of the project
- Exclusions: What does the project scope not cover?
- Spaces for authorizing signatures from the stakeholders.
When creating this first draft, it is important to get your team’s input because they have probably worked on similar projects before, so they know the expected timelines, etc.
Step 2: Talk to Your Team
Enlist your team to help you determine whether you can finish the project within the projected timeline. You can also get their input on the following matters:
- Project goals: Can they be achieved within the set timeframe?
- Expectations: Are the deliverables realistic?
- Exclusions: Which deliverables fall outside the normal project scope?
Step 3: Define the Deliverables and Milestones
A project scope differs from a work detail structure in that it does not break down project deliverables in detail. Consequently, all the tasks you include in the scope should be relevant. If a deliverable cannot be connected to a milestone or is vague, remove or redefine it. Take your final list and connect each deliverable to a milestone with a set deadline.
Pro-tip: Consider using a Gantt Chart to create a visual representation of your delivery dates, milestones, and progress. You can also create a timeline through a project board, which your team can use to keep up with their progress.
Step 4: Identify the Exclusions
Next, identify and name the deliverables that are outside the project scope, otherwise called exclusions. Doing this will help you later on in the project if the clients or stakeholders request something that is not included in the project scope.
Step 5: Get the Document Signed
Finally, review your project scope to ensure you have included everything and have the stakeholders sign the document. Keep your scope to no longer than two pages long so that clients can easily scan the entire document and sign it without having to read through pages and pages.
Tips for Writing a Great Project Scope
Consider using the SMART acronym when writing your project scope. Here is a breakdown of how each element might apply to your project scope:
- Specific (S): Be very specific when describing your objectives for the project. You want to create a document so clear that anyone outside your team – e.g., company executives – can read it and understand what the project is about.
- Measurable (M): Set measurable milestones that allow you to gauge the progress of your project. This will serve as proof for the stakeholders that you are making progress.
- Achievable (A): As you set milestones and describe objectives, make sure they are achievable, or you will fail and demotivate your team. For example, don’t set out to ‘produce a working prototype in 2 days if you actually need 2 months.
- Realistic (R): Be realistic about your goals and timelines. The best way to do this is to share details about the deliverables and budget with your team and ask them if and when they can meet the client’s demands.
- Timely (T): Stick to the schedule you provide the client.
As you can see, the project scope is a very extensive document that can take a lot of time to prepare. This is why you should work on creating one detailed Project Scope Template that you can customize every time you get a new project. Doing this will make the process a little easier for you and your team.