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What Is a Scope Statement?

Jim B.
Jim B.

A scope statement is a written document prepared by a project manager at the outset of any significant business or construction project. This document should be shared with the customer, if it is an outside job, or the sponsor, if the project is meant to be performed in-house. The main goal of a scope statement is provide a detailed account of the goals of the project, the steps taken to reach those goals, and the obstacles and costs associated with the entire process. In this way, it can provide a type of checklist that determines whether or not the project was a successful undertaking once it is completed.

The job of a project manager is to act as an overseer for all of the disparate aspects of any sort of project for which his firm is hired. Depending on the size of the project, this can be a seemingly overwhelming task without some sort of statement of goals and objectives which can be consulted during the process. A scope statement serves this purpose, and it is important not only to a project manager but also to the clients who need the work done.

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Many items should be included in an effective scope statement. It should first identify the reason that this project is being undertaken, setting it up as a sort of problem that the project is meant to rectify. That should be followed up by whatever product the project is meant to make. This product is essentially the solution to the problem identified in the first part.

From that point, the scope statement should get more detailed in its descriptions of the project's necessities and realities. The statement should provide a clear picture of what exactly the project manager's team can deliver to the process, and what falls outside their reach and thus must be provided by others. In this way, the manager can lay out exactly what can be expected of his workers during the project.

Another portion of the scope statement should be devoted to costs, both in terms of how much the project will cost and, if it is some sort of business deal, the amount of money it should generate. At the completion of the project, a quick consultation of the original statement should leave no doubt whether or not the project's mission was achieved. It acts as a sort of contract between project manager and customer, and, if done right, eliminates any uncertainties that can be detrimental to both parties.

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