What Is a Project Scope Statement? (And How to Write One)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 2, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you and your team complete projects at work, having an established project management process in place is important. One aspect of project management is a project scope statement that summarizes the work you plan to do. Understanding what this statement is and how to write one can help you and your team work more efficiently. In this article, we explain what a project scope statement is, discuss the differences between common project management documents, explain how to write the statement, give you tips to ensure it's successful, and offer a template and example to help you write a statement.

Related: What Is Project Management? Definition, Steps, and Skills

What is a project scope statement?

A project scope statement is a document that summarizes all aspects of a project and explains what to expect. It's generally an internal document designed to offer clarity and guidance for the project's participants. Both participants and stakeholders can refer to the scope statement for planning and buy-in purposes.

A scope statement typically includes these elements:

  • Objectives: the overall goals of the project and an explanation of what can make the project successful

  • Deliverables: the end product of the project, such as a software application or hardware installation

  • Time frames: project start date, end date, and important milestone dates such as when each stage of the project may be complete

  • Budget: the total cost of the project and its major components

  • Stakeholders: project participants, such as the manager, contributors, and department heads

  • Constraints: any issues that may prevent the team from completing the project as planned

  • Impacts: any business processes or other endeavours that the project may delay or compromise

Related: What Is a Project Management Plan? With Tips and Examples

Differences between project scope statements and similar documents

Depending on the nature of the project you're managing, you may have many different documents to outline the objectives or contributors. Scopes of work and project scope management plans serve complementary but distinct purposes. Here's an explanation of each to help you better understand scope statements:

Scope of work

Unlike a project scope, a scope of work is less of a planning document and more of an agreement between parties. A scope of work outlines the work that a contractor or consultant agrees to do for an organization. For example, a typical scope of work explains the project deliverables, timeline, milestones, and progress-reporting process.

Related: What Is a Statement of Work in Project Management?

Project scope management

For most organizations, project scope management plans come after scope statements. A project scope management plan is much more detailed and clearly explains the various phases of the project and the tasks within each phase. This document is also integral to project auditing and reporting, as you can use it to review deliverables and gauge success.

How to create a scope statement

You can use the following steps to guide you in creating an efficient scope statement:

1. State the reason for the project

Begin by discussing the reason for the project. Consider why it's important and the reason for your organization doing it now. Explain how it aligns with one or more of the organization's business objectives. For example, if the organization wants to increase overall revenue by 25%, explain how the project aims to generate equivalent sales. Often, project managers use scope statements to convince management that a project is worth undertaking, so it's important your reasoning is convincing.

2. Discuss the key objectives

After aligning the project with the organization's business objectives, discuss the main goal for the project. You can use the SMART framework to clarify the objective:

  • Specific: Be as precise as possible about what you intend the project to achieve and why.

  • Measurable: Use a quantifiable goal to make your objective easy to understand and track.

  • Attainable: Ensure that any objective you set is achievable, based on the resources and time frame.

  • Relevant: Confirm that the project's goal relates closely to your organization's larger aims.

  • Time based: Propose a deadline or milestone date so you can track progress and success.

Related: SMART Goals: Objectives for Your Career

3. Describe the scope

Next, outline the project's scope by explaining the work that your team plans to perform. Rather than listing every task, mention the major phases. For example, your organization's lead generation project may include key aspects like researching the audience, drafting marketing and advertising campaigns, choosing a customer relationship management tool, and creating a process for the sales department to follow.

4. Explain the deliverables

A deliverable is the final product you have when the project is complete. Every project has at least one deliverable that reflects its overall goals, but some projects may have multiple deliverables. A deliverable can be physical, such as building a new computer for a client, or intangible, such as software that your client can use to manage their customer database. Include a sentence or two describing the deliverables the client can expect at the end of the project.

5. Mention the exclusions

Once you have summarized the project, discuss elements that aren't included in it. This tells the client and management team exactly what to expect from the project so the exclusion of certain aspects doesn't surprise them. For example, if the project is updating an app the company created, include two lists of features: one list of features you plan to implement and a one of features you aren't going to address with this update. This sets clear expectations from the beginning.

6. Highlight the milestones

Create a timeline with an end date and dates for the milestones you plan to complete. Having milestones can help you track your team's progress and ensure you're adhering to the deadlines you create. Milestones are unique to each project, so try to think of ones that align with major phases or deliverables. For example, if the project is to create a social media marketing campaign, some milestones may be performing market research, creating written content, editing written content, producing images or videos to go with the content, and creating a final post for different platforms.

7. Clarify any constraints

Finally, discuss any potential constraints or issues you may come across when completing the project. Think of any factors that could affect the project's results and mention them to show stakeholders what is necessary for the project to be successful. Some examples of constraints your project may have include staffing shortages, not enough funding, or a lack of materials.

Tips for writing your statement

To write an effective statement, consider these tips:

  • Make it as short and succinct as possible. Remember that the statement is an outline only. Save detailed plans for subsequent documents like the project scope management plan.

  • Ensure that it's easy to understand. Use terms and language that make sense to all recipients rather than including jargon and abbreviations. This ensures everyone understands the document when you circulate it to participants and stakeholders in multiple departments.

  • Address important questions. A scope statement aims to clearly highlight the benefits of completing the project. For example, you can explain how the project aligns with the company's business objectives or how the deliverable fulfills a need in the market.

Scope statement template

Fill in this template with your own project information to create your scope statement:

  • Project number or name: a unique number or name to identify the project easily

  • Reason: a sentence or two explaining the value the project could provide to the company

  • Objectives: the main goal of the project using the SMART framework

  • Scope: a list of the major tasks or phases your team is going to complete

  • Deliverables: the product or products you plan to present at the end of the project

  • Exclusions: any elements that aren't part of the project

  • Milestones: the date of when the project and each phase may be complete

  • Constraints: any factors that could affect the project's results

Project scope example

To help you write your own project scope, consider this example of what one may look like:

  • Project number or name: Social Media Campaign for the New Skincare Line

  • Reason: Create interest in the new skincare line before its release to increase sales and revenue.

  • Objectives: Encourage 60% of our followers, approximately 2,500 people, to sign up for email notifications alerting them of when the new line is available to purchase.

  • Scope: Take high-quality pictures of each product in the line and post one everyday leading up to the line's release with a caption explaining its uses.

  • Deliverables: Six posts detailing the new skincare line, new members to our email list, and an increase in followers.

  • Exclusions: This campaign is temporary, so once the campaign is over, the social media manager can return to regular posting.

  • Milestones: The team is to create all content by February 1, so it's ready to post on February 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 before the skincare line's release on February 11.

  • Constraints: Potential constraints we may face is photo editing taking longer than we expect, which is why we're aiming to complete the content four days before we plan to post it.

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