If you’re not managing the scope of the project effectively, it could see your project run off the rails quickly.

That’s why creating a thorough scope management plan is so important, helping you to bring a project home with successful outcomes.

Before we talk about how to manage scope, let’s define it.

What is project scope?

The project scope is a summary of the parameters of the entire project – it is the meat and potatoes of a project. A well-written project scope includes goals, objectives, deliverables, a task plan, costs and deadlines of a project. It also assigns responsibilities and roles. The project scope is written out into a statement of work, or scope statement and can be included as part of the project management plan.

Avoiding scope creep

Scope creep is real, and it’s a problem. Imagine what a garden looks like when it is neglected and untended. Instead of plants staying within the boundaries of the garden, they simply grow wherever they can. A project scope is like a garden, if not properly cared for it could go wild.

Scope creep is what happens when changes to the scope occur. If new requirements are added to the scope without a change in budget, resources, or timeline, then that is uncontrolled scope creep. Sometimes changes in the scope are necessary and warranted, however it is always best to plan for it.

What is a scope management plan?

A scope management plan is your first line of defence against scope creep. A scope management plan will map out the project and will help the project remain or stay close to the originally set out scope. This will ensure proper use of resources, so the project is finished on time, within budget, and to the quality expected from stakeholders.

Keep in mind, the scope management plan can be included as part of your project management plan. As part of the scope management plan you should include the processes that will be taken to complete the project and how these processes will be controlled and monitored.

Here are the steps to creating a scope management plan:

  • Conduct stakeholder interviews and record project requirements and expectations from stakeholders.
  • Set out the scope of the project and identify project goals and objectives.
  • Structure a task list, which includes roles and responsibilities of the project team.
  • Establish a communication process for project deliverable approval.
  • Create a document that communicates how to control and document change requests.


Components of a scope management plan

Below are some of the things you can include in your scope management plan.

  1. Introduction. This is where you set the tone of the project and provide context. Include how your scope management plan relates to other documents and the governance of scope management.
  2. Scope definition. Include an overview of the scope of the project and how you will complete the project within the scope parameters. Include tools and techniques such as observation, benchmark comparison, analysis, and subject matter expert opinions.
  3. Budgets and resources. Outline what the budget of the project is and the resources that will be needed to get the project across the line.
  4. Stakeholders. Document all stakeholders that can influence the scope of the project.
  5. Requirements management. Document requirements from stakeholder interviews and how you plan to manage expectations.
  6. Scope statement. This is where you define your work. Include a scope description, acceptable criteria, and deliverables list, as well as a list of exclusions. It can also be beneficial to include assumptions, limitations, and any external factors that the project’s success depends on. It’s extremely important to get your scope statement right. This document will communicate expectations to stakeholders and reduce the risk of scope change.
  7. Deliverables. Detail the key deliverables for this project.
  8. Informational management. Include templates for communication and the scope management plan.
  9. Roles and responsibilities. It’s important to define tasks and deliverables and assign responsibilities. Roles and responsibilities are just as important as the tasks themselves. A RACI matrix can often be included here.
  10. Scope validation. This document includes how you will determine your deliverables and meet scope expectations. It’s extremely important to get sign off on deliverables. Your scope control approach will let stakeholders know how you will handle change requests.
  11. Benefits managementThe benefits of the project should also be clearly outlined and communicated. Establish a process to ensure your project will successfully deliver these benefits.


A scope management plan is important to prevent your project from being derailed. It is like a map that shows you how to handle multiple obstacles that might arise. Once your scope management plan is finalised, make sure you share it with all parties associated with the project to keep them informed.

Final takeaways

Be clear

Written communication can be extremely informative or terribly confusing. Make sure that you write your scope management plan with your target audience in mind. It should be simple and clear for anyone to read. It’s also a good idea to utilise checklists or bulleted points. That way if something gets lost in a paragraph it is reiterated in a simpler format.

​Be flexible

The whole point of a scope management plan is not to prevent changes. It’s to allow flexibility in management and to ensure even if the scope changes, everyone will benefit. Implementing a document and process, such as a change request form will help you document and enact change. Change happens, the goal is simply to be ready for it.

Define your stakeholders

Have a list of stakeholders to the project, as well as stakeholders that have the authority to approve change. Depending on the change there may be legal issues, technical issues, and communication issues to deal with. Designating who can make those decisions beforehand will make tracking and communication easier. Include contact information and other relevant information.

Managing project scope doesn’t have to be difficult. With the proper scope management plan, and a bit of time, effort, and patience, you’ll be able to craft a clear scope and deliver your project on time and on budget.