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What Is a Project Scope Statement and How to Make the Most of It?

What Is a Project Scope Statement and How to Make the Most of It?
Bitrix24 Team
January 19, 2022
Last updated: April 5, 2023

Every project has a scope. This means your staff should be ready to do a certain amount of work within certain time limits and your client is supposed to pay for it. To better understand how much resources you should allocate for each task, you should compose a project scope statement. This document is essential for your communications with team members, clients, stakeholders and all the other parties involved. From this article, you'll get to know what a project scope statement is and how to compose it.

What Is Project Scope Statement?

A project scope statement is a document that describes the constraints or limitations of the project. After reading it, all the parties involved should understand how much work they need to carry out to achieve the set goals. The information from the project scope statement can affect many aspects of a company's workflows, from individuals' and teams' schedules to budgeting.

Unlike ongoing work, all projects have boundaries. Stakeholders always want to know the constraints of each project they might be eager to support. You should explain to them how many professionals will be involved in the project, what the deliverables are and how the work breakdown structure translates into actual work delivered. The more the client is willing to pay, the larger the project scope can be.

Typically, it would be the producer or the project manager who will compose the project scope statement. The document should define the work that needs to be done and its parameter. This is what you should mention in your project scope statement:

  • What's the essence of the project?

  • Why do you launch it?

  • Which goals are you planning to achieve?

  • What will be delivered?

  • What will not be delivered?

  • Whose approvals do you need to get to be able to start the project?

  • What are the milestones and phases of the project?

  • Which tasks does the project consist of?

  • What are the expenses?

  • How can you understand that the project is completed?

  • Which assumptions could help you to clarify the deliverables?

  • Which clarification do you need to provide to the contents of the document?

You might want to borrow facts and numbers for your project scope statement from your statement of work. These two documents partly overlap but are not interchangeable. The SoW is more focused on requirements than the amount of work. In a project scope statement, you should provide definitions of specific deliverables — while for an SoW, this information might be excessive.

Other Documents That Might Be Similar to the Project Scope Statement

Some other documents that businesses use in their workflows might resemble the project scope statement to a certain extent. Managers can use all of them to define the parameters of the project. Here are the names of these documents:

  • Statement of work

  • Contracts

  • Proposals

The average volume of all these documents is from 5 to 50 pages.

The difference between the SoW and the project scope statement was already described in the previous passage.

A contract has a different purpose. When composing it, you should keep in mind that you might need to show it to third parties. For instance, if the developer fails to build the mobile app, the client can show the contract to a lawyer and then use this paper in court. The project scope might be not as important for the court as the contract.

As for the proposal, its main mission is to help the company to secure a job. The company sends this document to a potential client to convince them it can handle the project. When you write a project scope statement, you already know that the client believes you can cope with the job — so the main thing is to agree on the requirements and deliverables.

When working on your contracts, proposals and project scope statements, you might want to copy and paste some parts of the text from one document to another. Yet most likely, you'll need to edit these parts to better fit into the format of each paper.

Besides, you might come across the following documents that have little in common with the project scope statement and can hardly substitute any part of it:

  • NDA. After you sign a nondisclosure agreement, you promise to keep the details of your project secret. Your clients' competitors shouldn't know what your client is currently working at.

  • MSA. Typically, your account person would be in charge of this long and dry legal document. The master service agreement defines all the terms of the relationships between you and your client and sets up all future engagements. You should compose and sign this paper before you begin to write your statement of work.

  • ICA. This acronym stands for independent contractor agreement. As its name suggests, this document regulates your relationships with freelancers, professional services and contractors. For tax purposes, you need to explain that these people don't work for you full-time. If a contractor fails to deliver what they promised on time and the client decides to take the matter to court, the contractor will bear responsibility for the delay or substandard quality of work.

  • SLA. Let's imagine a situation when the client wants your team to work on Sundays. You show them your service-level agreement — and they see that Sunday is your day off. The SLA sets legal boundaries for the interactions between your organization and the client.

Normally, you would complete these legal documents before, after or while landing your statement of work. To save time and effort, you might want to create templates for all these documents and offer them to your clients, contractors and other parties involved. If every person you interact with would offer you their version of the contract, it would take you too much effort to check and maybe edit the papers before signing.

Why Is the Project Scope Statement So Important?

In one of the previous passages, we said that the client would be less likely to show a project scope statement to the court. Lawyers and judges might find it more convenient to rely on contracts. But what if the client misinterprets the information that you provided in the statement? What if they expect you to deliver something different from what you're working on? Then, they might want to go to court. A properly-composed statement should enable you to avoid such situations.

Here are some other examples of what might happen if your project scope statement lacks clarity:

  • You might ruin your relationships with the client

  • The client might delay the payment

  • Your reputation might get tarnished

The more precisely you outline the goals, schedule and deliverables of the project, the lower your risks.

Besides, it's very important to outline what is out of your project's scope. The client should understand what they shouldn't expect to receive. Let's consider a situation when the client thinks that a certain element is relevant to the project. You, on the contrary, can convince them that this element won't bring them any extra conversions and won't boost their revenue. You know it because many other similar projects have already proved that. What if the client asks you about the lack of this element once the project is ready? They might fail to accept the project. You might need to invest time and effort into adding elements to the project at such a moment when it might be hard to add them. It would be much wiser to explain in the statement what will not be included in the project. If the client has questions, you'll be able to answer them before you start the work.

To facilitate the process of composing the project scope statement, you might want to rely on Bitrix24.

The basic functionality of Bitrix24 is available at no cost. If you realize you need more features, you can easily upgrade at any time. This investment should quickly pay off thanks to the increased productivity of your team. 

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How Exactly Should You Compose Your Project Scope Statement?

Each company might have its own standards for composing this type of document. Below, we'd like to list a few recommendations that you might want to take into account when working on your statement.

Why Do You Launch This Project?

When getting started with your project scope statement, you should explain to your audience why you're planning to handle the project. In the first part of the document, you should provide answers to the following questions:

  • What is the essence of the project?

  • What are its goals?

  • What are its boundaries?

You don't need to go deep into details. The initial part of your project scope should be very concise. But you might want to mention the most important KPIs.

Let's imagine that the client wants you to build a mobile app for them. Here is an example of a substandard initial part of the project scope statement: "Our company (mention its name) will build a mobile app for the client company (mention its name). The mobile app will be ready to use in May 2022. People will be able to buy online fitness classes there and order sports equipment". That would be too vague.

Instead, you might want to say that the goal of building the mobile app is to enable the client company to acquire new customers, strengthen its online presence and expand to new regions. You can accentuate the primary values of the app, such as comprehensive user experience or seamless automatic updates. In this part of the project scope statement, you can also enumerate the main sections of the app: catalog of fitness classes, tips on healthy eating, promotions and so on. Plus, you might mention the app's integration with your client's website.

A good introductory section of a project scope statement should come equally handy both for your client and your team. Your staffers should clearly understand what they will be busy with and which goals they should strive to achieve.

Get Approval for Your Deliverables

Too often, businesses ask clients for feedback rather unexpectedly. One day, the client might receive an email where a company representative asks them: "Hello! Do you have any feedback for us?". Here are the primary drawbacks of such an approach:

  • The client doesn't know in which format they should provide feedback and what they should talk about

  • This person might be not sure of whether they can talk on behalf of the whole department or company

  • The recipient might lack time — but they might think you need feedback urgently, so they might give you just a brief reply

To avoid misunderstanding, you should outline the process of requesting and receiving feedback in your project scope statement. Plus, it would be reasonable to discuss the algorithm of providing feedback with the client verbally after they have read the document.

You might want to mention in your project scope statement that all feedback must be in a written and consolidated format by the client and come from one point of contact. You should name both the client and the point of contact. Plus, you can say that the client should ensure all necessary and appropriate stakeholders are available to participate in necessary creative and technical reviews.

What Will Be Delivered and What's the Timeline of the Project?

That's probably the most important part of your project scope statement. Here, you should explain what your client will ultimately get and how they will get it.

When working on this section of the document, you should strive to avoid any ambiguity. Try to be as precise as possible. Back up your promises with definitions and numbers.

Let's come back to the example of building a mobile app with online fitness classes for a client. It won't be enough to promise to build an app with specific content by a certain date. Instead, you should consider focusing on the following details:

  • Which devices will the app be compatible with?

  • What will be the technical requirements for installing the app?

  • Will there be any age, location or any other restrictions for potential app users?

  • How many sections and pages will the app have?

  • How will the user profile look like?

  • Which tools and technologies will you use to build the app?

  • Will you provide ongoing support for the app once it hits the market?

  • Which services will you provide in terms of ongoing support?

The list of relevant questions could go on further. To prevent the document from becoming too long, you should avoid excessive explanations. For instance, you might want to list the names of the tools that you're planning to use when building the app. But you might avoid explaining which tool you will apply to each particular section of the app. Also, you don't need to specify the features and capabilities of each tool.

Add Anything That You Didn't Include in the Previous Sections

In this part of your project scope statement, you can focus on various assumptions. For instance, you may try to predict what might happen if your team fails to achieve some goals due to unfavorable external factors. Which alternatives will you be able to offer to the client? How will these alternatives impact the further development of the project? Will your project require more funding for these alternatives?

Which Software Can You Use to Compose Project Scope Statements?

To facilitate the process of composing the statement, you might want to rely on Bitrix24. Over 10 million businesses from all over the world use this software for this purpose. With Bitrix24, you can easily outline the following information blocks:

  • Deliverables

  • Required resources

  • Stakeholders

  • Project schedule

Your team should appreciate the following features of Bitrix24:

  • Communication and collaboration tools

  • Project planning capabilities

  • Resource management

  • Client management

  • Project time management

  • Gantt charts and Kanban boards

This product has excellent project and task management features. Once your project receives approval and gets started, it should be very easy for you to track its progress. You can set a schedule for the project and distribute tasks among your staffers. When the system detects a risk of a delay or a bottleneck, it will inform you. You'll have enough time to redistribute responsibilities and prevent any potential issues before they happen. The app enables you to modify access rights so that every team member can check and edit only that part of the content that is relevant to them.

The basic functionality of Bitrix24 is available at no cost. If you realize you need more features, you can easily upgrade to one of the free paid plans. This investment should quickly pay off thanks to the increased productivity of your team. Bitrix24 is available in the cloud and on-premise versions as well as a mobile app for iOS and Android.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you found this article informative and now you better understand how to make the most of your project scope statement. This document should outline the amount of work that your team is supposed to do, the time limits and the resources required for the project. The statement should facilitate the process of finding consensus with your clients and stakeholders. The clearer and more professional the document, the easier it should be for your team to achieve the desired results.

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