What Is A Project Scope And How Do You Define It (2022 Guide)

Want to understand what project scope is and learn how to draft one?

Whether it’s developing new tech or building a new park for a small town, drafting a project scope is the first step to any project.

In this article, you’ll learn what a project scope statement is and how you can create one in just three simple steps. We’ll also highlight the best ways to manage and implement your project scope effectively.

And who else to give you better advice than the talented folks from Pawnee’s Parks and Rec department!  

famous actors on a zoom call

What Is A Project Scope?

A project scope (or product scope) is a documented statement of everything that goes into making a project successful. 

This includes: 

  • Project stakeholders: the people involved in the project
  • Resources allocated: such as team members, budgets, tech, etc.
  • Skill requirements: abilities that your project assignees must possess
  • Project constraint: limitations of time, people and costs that you must operate within
  • Deadlines: timeframes within which you must complete parts of the project
  • Project deliverables: the nature of your project’s objectives   

In a word, it ‘scopes’ the entire project!

But why do you need to decide all of this before starting the project?

Let’s ask Leslie for some help.

Let’s say she wants to build a park for the citizens of Pawnee. 

She’ll have to do a million things to achieve her project goal, right?

She’ll first need to convince her boss that this project is worth the department’s time and money – which, as you know, can be a little challenging at times:

man says whats your point

Then, she must win the support and cooperation of her team members like Ron and April

And finally, she needs to propose the project to her key stakeholders — the public. 

That’s quite the to-do list waiting for her, right?

How can a scope statement help her with all of these things?

It’ll help Leslie prepare and focus on what’ll lead her to project success. She won’t have to scramble around searching for what she has to do next!

Additionally, as a scope consolidates all her project information, it’ll answer all of Ron Swanson’s tricky questions about the project!

Your project scope is essentially your project guide.

Use it to define every stage of your project, predict challenges, and devise strategies to overcome them. Moreover, you can refer to it when negotiating over resources and deadlines with your clients (or Ron)!

3 Simple Steps To Define Your Project Scope

You now know what a project scope is and what it contains.

But how do you get started with making a scope statement?

Don’t worry, creating a project scope isn’t rocket science!

All it takes is three simple steps that even Andy could follow!

man says thats embarassing

Here they are:

  • Step 1: Define the Essential Project Elements
  • Step 2: Develop a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
  • Step 3: Set a change management process

Let’s break them down, shall we?

Step 1: Define the Essential Project Elements

Nothing says preparation like data, right?

Begin making your project management plan by defining the fundamental elements of the project.

Here are the four key areas where you need to define:

A. Project objectives

Sure, spontaneity is great.

And it certainly works for Andy!

no idea what i am doing

But if you’re not Andy, and you want to execute a project successfully, you’ll need to have a clear, pre-established idea of your project goal or objective. 

Once defined, objectives should tell you:

1. What you’re looking to achieve:

What is your final deliverable

Is it building an app? Creating a new process?

Defining the nature of your deliverable in your project scope statement gives you and your team a concrete idea of what they’re aiming for.

2. How to measure your success: 

Having a goal isn’t enough. 

You also need to determine how you’ll measure your progress in achieving that goal. Without this, there’s no way to determine if things are on the right track or not!

3. Your critical success factors

Scope definition at this project objective stage will also help you identify Critical Success Factors. 

What are they?

These are non-negotiable requirements for project success, and the project will fail without them

For example, if you’re building a new park, it’s critical that you landscape the place before it’s ready for your citizens. 

B. Your key stakeholders

It’s not a party till you have some fun people over, right?

we like to dabble

Similarly, you can’t start a project without the key stakeholders on board.

Based on the nature of the project, you may need core personnel such as UI/UX designers, software engineers, business development executives, etc. Depending on your organization, you can even include clients as key stakeholders – especially if they adopt a hands-on approach to product development.

However, all projects must have a:

  • Project manager, who’ll coordinate with all key stakeholders and regulate the overall functioning of the project
  • Project sponsor, who’ll take high-level ownership of the project, without being too involved in the ground level execution

Create a stakeholder map to list all the important people involved in the project to give yourself an idea of the people who can help you race towards project success.

C.Your  project requirements 

If your objectives are clear, you’ll know what you need to achieve them. 

After all, you don’t want to be caught clueless like Ron once the project begins, right?

confused about star wars

Your project requirements could include infrastructural needs such as a new office, HR needs like a new manager or a new management plan such as developing an Agile workflow to better meet client demands.

List whatever you need in your scope statement or make a separate requirements document that you embed within it.

This will help you cope with requirements management, a process that begins with project scope definition and continues throughout the project’s lifecycle. 

It includes managing:

  • Business requirements: overall long term needs of a business from a project
  • Solution requirements: day-to-day, functional requirements to meet project deliverables
  • Stakeholder requirements: balancing the needs of all people involved (team members, client, customers, etc.)

You may also define project assumptions here:

These are project statements covering aspects that are assumed to remain constant throughout your project lifecycle such as:

  • Cost of day-to-day functioning will remain constant
  • Specific members will remain part of the project team until the project concludes 

D. Your project limits

By now, you probably feel as awesome as Ben because of all the data you’ve collected. 

man winking

But before you move on to project execution, there’s a crucial — and often ignored — element of scope drafting

You need to define what’s NOT part of the project!

Knowing what you’re not going to be focusing on will keep you focused on what matters most. At this stage, also take some time to define things that cannot be done as part of the project. 

These limitations may be defined by a specific project constraint you defined earlier like:

  • The time limit to finish the project
  • The cost attached to various aspects of the project
  • The nature of the final deliverable

Defining this prevents you from attempting too much and overworking your employees – helping you avoid project failure

Step 2: Develop a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

You’ve now got a dedicated team and a recipe for success. 

But you’re not yet done.

You now need to draft a detailed Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)!

What’s a WBS?

A WBS is essentially a step-by-step breakdown of your project that answers these questions: 

What needs to be done?

Who will do it?

When will it be done?

Let’s explain this with the help of everyone’s favorite breakfast.

woman presenting waffles

If you were Ann, you’d start by first making the delicious batter, then heat the iron and finally pour that lovely batter to cook some fresh and crisp waffles, in time for Leslie’s breakfast. 

A WBS uses the same step-by-step approach to meet your project’s deliverables

The more detailed your WBS is, the more clarity you’ll have about what to do during each project stage. 

How do I go about making a WBS?

To make a WBS, start by identifying your goals and objectives and then break them down

For example, to develop a website, you’ll have to start by creating a mockup. 

This becomes your first big deliverable, which contains several subtasks such as drafting, coordination, approval, etc. 

Then prioritize these subtasks to help you attempt the most important ones first. Finally, you can set deadlines and assign team members to each of these tasks to ensure that everyone knows what they have to do and by when.

Here’s an example WBS flow for you:

  • Key deliverable: Website
    • Work component 1: Content
      • Work package 1: Sample copy
        • Assigned to: Tom
        • Priority: Urgent
      • Work package 2: Landing page content
        • Assigned to: April
        • Priority: Slightly urgent
      • Work package 3: Product page content
        • Assigned to: Andy
        • Priority: Not urgent 
    • Work component 2: Visual design
      • Work package 1: Settle on a color scheme
        • Assigned to: Ron
        • Priority: Slightly urgent
      • Work package 2: Choose fonts
        • Assigned to: April
        • Priority: Slightly urgent
    • And so on…

Step 3: Set a change management process

Got all the information you need to draft your scope document?


But you’re not done yet.

You still have to deal with change management

Despite your excellent project plan, your project will change course along the way. 

And frequent changes can leave you looking like this:

what just happened

If you have too many sudden project changes, you’re going to suffer from scope creep

What’s scope creep?

It’s when a project’s scope keeps increasing due to unchecked additions beyond the original scope of work. 

Sounds scary, right? 

But sometimes, this is inevitable.

For example, client and customer needs might change – which means you may need to rework the existing deliverable or put in some additional work.

But don’t worry, this doesn’t have to derail you. 

Setting up a scope management process will help you control scope creep by:

  • Setting limitations on the number of times you’ll change certain things
  • Assigning team members to be the points of contact to coordinate the changes
  • Budgeting time and resources for multiple rounds of changes

Additionally, you can adopt a project management methodology like Agile or Scrum – which were built for dealing with any sudden scope change!

The 3 Best Practices For Effective Scope Management

Once you have your project scope statement ready, you can get started, right?

make it awesome

Oh, we’re sure you will Leslie! 

But scope definition is just the foundation of your project. 

As you execute your project management plan, you need to ensure you follow these scope management to avoid scope creep and project failure

A. Communicate

Don’t you hate it when you feel like you’re not being heard?

are you listening

Communication is the most vital ingredient in your scope management plan.

As a project manager, you can organize a kickoff meeting for your scrum team where you highlight the defined scope of work. This will help everyone understand their individual deliverable to get things done quickly! 

Follow this up with regular check-ins to keep everyone updated about progress and address any doubts that they may have.

It’ll help them avoid looking like Chris here:

not sure what to do

B. Ask for feedback

No one’s perfect. 

Except Ann, according to Leslie. 

you are talented

The rest of us mortals need feedback to learn and grow!

Encourage your project stakeholders to give you feedback on your scope document and recommend any changes. It’ll give you a better idea of what they feel comfortable with and how things can improve.

Even after you’ve finished the scope definition phase, ask for customer and client feedback to know what you can do to make things more efficient. This way, you can avoid the possibility of a sudden scope change disrupting your plans later on.

C. Document everything

In most projects, small things often slip through the cracks:

A minor piece of feedback. 

An old project requirements document. 

Bits of correspondence.

It doesn’t seem like a lot — until you miss it and can’t find it anymore:

i want it now

Sorry, Tom. It’s gone!

Which is why the best project managers are also skilled data curators. 

They document everything

Always document every single detail about your project to ensure that you have a clear idea of what to do at all times. Keep updating this project scope document with any changes and developments to keep everything in a unified space.

This way, whenever you need some information, you know where to look! 

How To Implement Your Product Scope Effectively

You now have your project scope statement ready to go.

But how do you ensure that you implement it effectively?

You can’t just rely on emailing people, right?

That’d be impossible to coordinate!

Additionally, you can’t just use an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of your work.

That comes with tons of issues that will lead to this:

everything hurts

What you need is a tool for scope management!

It’s going to help you:

  • Define your scope
  • Document everything
  • Break your project down into tasks and subtasks
  • Assign team members 
  • Track progress across your project lifecycle

Great, right?

But what’s the best tool for the job?

The Best Project Management Tool For 2021: ClickUp


ClickUp is the world’s leading project and scope management tool that’s used by teams all over the world. It’s got all the features you need to execute your dream project!

Just ask Leslie!

Here’s how ClickUp helps you implement your product scope effectively: 

A. Track your deliverables with Goals

ClickUp’s Goals feature is the best way to track your project planning and project execution.

In ClickUp, Goals are high-level containers that you break down into smaller Targets. These Targets are essentially your Goal’s objectives, and as you complete these Targets, you move closer to meeting your overall project deliverables!

Additionally, as you complete each of your Targets, your overall Goal progress will keep updating in real-time!


Here’s an example of this.

As the Deputy Director of the Parks and Recreation in Pawnee, Leslie’s project goal is to increase the safety of her citizens. 

If she was using ClickUp, her Targets to achieve this goal could be:

  • Reach out to citizens each month
  • Reduce the number of accidents on park premises
  • Convert that abandoned (and dangerous) pit into a new park

ClickUp will let her track her progress by assigning metrics to each Target in the project plan such as:

  • Number: number of citizens contacted, percentage of reduction in accidents 
  • True/False: status of littering in parks
  • Currency: funding support that she gets

And what’s more satisfying than ticking goals as you achieve them?

Only celebratory waffles!

eating waffles

B. Create Tasks, Subtasks, Checklists

You worked hard on forming that WBS

And with ClickUp, you can really break things down to implement it!

Here’s how you can do this:

  • Tasks and Subtasks: create Tasks and Subtasks for every part of your project plan, and assign them to each of your team members individually
  • Checklists: create Lists of steps or items to include (like a quality test checklist) that can be checked off as you progress

Additionally, these Checklists come with tons of features such as:

  1. Nesting: each Checklist can hold multiple sub-items to help you get as detailed as you want
  2. Drag and Drop functionality: easily move items to reschedule your list
  3. Assigning Items: assign list items to specific team members
  4. Templates: create Checklist templates that can instantly be added to your projects

C. Document everything with ClickUp Docs

Remember how you need a place to carefully document everything?

That’s where ClickUp Docs comes in!

You can use it as a knowledge base to store important company-related and project planning information such as:

  • Project baseline: the starting point of your project
  • Project charter: a brief and formal declaration of your project’s objectives
  • Requirements Traceability Matrix (RTM): a grid that traces requirements from their baseline to their current status

Additionally, ClickUp Docs comes with tons of features such as:

  • Rich text-formatting to create detailed Docs
  • Nesting pages within Docs for further categorization
  • Customizable access rights
  • The ability to let Google index these Docs to show up in search results!
clickup docs

D. Stay informed with the Box view and Pulse

With the project scope statement ready, everyone knows what they have to do.

But how do you know if everything is progressing smoothly?

How do you ensure that your team isn’t wasting time like Andy here:

ninja moves


Just go to ClickUp’s Box view to find out what everyone’s working on!

workload view

As the Box View sorts out tasks by assignee, you’ll know what everyone’s working on to keep track of what your team is working on.

You can even access each team member’s Profile to track:

  • What tasks they completed
  • What they’re currently working on
  • What they’re scheduled to work on

This way, you can quickly readjust items and project deliverables to ensure that everyone has an even workload – even if you’re working remotely!

ClickUp’s Pulse feature will also help you determine what your team is working on at the moment, making it easier for you to stay on top of everything.

activity view

E. Communicate clearly in the Comments section

Every team has occasional hiccups in communication. 

But these communication issues are what really disrupt your project’s progress.

Luckily, ClickUp’s Comments Section is designed to help you streamline communication by keeping every stakeholder informed throughout your project lifecycle

Use the Comment Sections to collaborate with project stakeholders over:

  • Requirements management
  • Problems over scope change
  • Doubts and concerns 
  • Relevant files and docs

Additionally, you can share files and tag stakeholders for more efficient communication!

But wait.

Isn’t this going to overwhelm your project team with a sea of comments that lead them to overlook some of your mentions?

Don’t worry, ClickUp has a solution for that too!

ClickUp allows you to assign comments to every stakeholder. And each time you assign a comment to a stakeholder, they get notified and can find it in their notifications. They can even mark it as resolved when they’re done to eliminate unnecessary feedback.

assign comments

With tons of teams working remotely after COVID-19, these communication features are essential to remote team management!

But wait, we’re not done yet.

In addition to these helpful features, ClickUp has tons of other features to help you manage your project management process:


Defining your project scope statement is one of the easiest ways to build a solid foundation for your project to ensure that things proceed as planned. Correctly and concisely is the ideal way to get started on any project. 

But remember, a well-drafted project scope statement is just the foundation. Once you draft it, you need to start working towards achieving that final deliverable!

And since every successful team needs the right tool to help them with that process, why not sign up for ClickUp today?

It has everything you need to draft, manage, and implement your project scope. Yup, it‘ll leave you and your project stakeholders looking like this:

man  surprised

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