Define Scope Process and its importance in terms of PMP

In this article, let's understand in detail about Define Scope process, benefits of the process, elements of project charter and project scope statement,  Inputs, Tools & techniques and Outputs based on latest edition of  PMBOK.

Define Scope Process and its importance in Project Management

Introduction to Define Scope Process
Define Scope Process is the third process of Project Scope Management knowledge area and part of planning process group, which is used to develop detailed description of the project and product. 

Define Scope Process and its importance in terms of PMP

Now let’s move for describing define scope process in detail.

Process Group
Knowledge Area
Project Scope Management


Six processes of Project Scope Management

1. Plan Scope Management (Planning)
2. Collect Requirements (Planning)
4. Create Work Breakdown structure (Planning)
5. Validate Scope (Monitoring and Controlling)
6. Control Scope (Monitoring and Controlling)

What is Define Scope process in terms of Project Management Professional (PMP)?

Define Scope is the process which determines what is and is not included in the project and its deliverables. It means, this process finalizes project requirements from requirements documentation and develop a detailed description of the project, product, services and results. We have already discussed in previous chapter about requirements documentation which we received as an output of collect requirements process.

How nature of Define Scope process is iterative?

In iterative life cycle projects, a high-level vision is developed early on for the entire project. Scope is determined one iteration at a time because of not having enough information. Detailed planning for the next iteration is carried out as work progresses on the current project scope and deliverables.  So, define scope process is highly iterative.

 Why Define Scope process is important?

Define scope process is most important process of Project scope management because project scope is finalized during this process. Define Scope Process is used to create detailed project scope statement which develop and document detailed description of the project’s deliverables and allows more realistic estimates for schedule, budget and resources required. Define scope process describes boundaries and acceptance criteria of product and service.

Inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs of Define Scope process

Define Scope Process and its importance in terms of PMP

What are the inputs of Define Scope Process?

Define Scope: Inputs

     1.     Project charter
The project charter is very much important document used in define scope process which includes characteristics of the product, high-level project description, high-level project scope, information on resources assigned, high-level project risks and requirements for getting project’s approval.

    2.     Project management plan

Project management plan include:
  • Scope management plan
Scope management plan is the output of Plan scope management process which includes information on developing, defining, validating and controlling scope of the project.

     3.     Project documents

Project documents includes:
  • Assumption log
The assumption log identifies high-level and low-level assumptions and constraints about the project, product, stakeholders, environment and other factors. These assumptions and constraints may influence the scope of project and product.
  • Requirements documentation
Requirements documentation is one of the input processes of Define scope which is used to identify requirements that will be incorporated into the scope.
  • Risk register
          The risk register contains risk response strategies in order to reduce or change               scope of the project and product strategies for avoiding or mitigating risks.

     6.   Enterprise environmental factors

The enterprise environmental factors that can influence the Define Scope process includes:
  • Culture of an organizational
  • Personnel administration
  • Company’s Infrastructure
  • Marketplace conditions

7.   Organizational process assets

The organizational process assets that can influence the Define Scope process includes:
  • Policies, procedures and templates
  • Lessons learned from previous project
  • Project files from previous project

What are the tools and techniques used for Define Scope process?

Define Scope: Tools & Techniques

1. Expert judgment

Expert judgement describes how subject matter experts and stakeholders can be utilized to assist project manager and considered expertise from individuals or groups who are holding experience with similar kind of project.

2. Data analysis

Data analysis techniques used as tools & techniques for Define Scope process is alternative analysis which helps to evaluate ways to meet the requirements and objectives of the project as defined in the project charter.

3. Decision making

Decision making techniques include:
  • Multicriteria decision analysis
A commonly used decision-making technique is also known as multicriteria decision analysis. Decision matrix or grid is created in this multicriteria decision analysis techniques to analyse various criteria and refine scope of the project and the product. These criteria can be requirements, schedule, budget, resources etc.

4. Interpersonal and team skills

Interpersonal and team skills includes:
  • Facilitation
Facilitation technique is one of the most highlighted techniques used by define scope process. Facilitation session has ability to effectively guide group of stakeholders who are having sets of expectations to reach common understanding of the project boundaries and deliverables. The main motive of facilitation session is to make all the relevant stakeholders who may have various backgrounds & requirements, agreed on the scope

5. Product analysis

Product analysis is another most important techniques of define scope process which is used for defining products and services. This effective tool can also be used to improve understanding of project team regarding product and helps to gather information as requirements and finally translating those descriptions into project deliverables.

In this technique, few major questions can be asked about a product and answers of those question needs to be generated to describe final delivery.
Few important methods of analysing product are:
  • Product breakdown
  • Requirements analysis
  • Systems analysis
  • Systems engineering
  • Value analysis
  • Value engineering

What are the outputs of Define Scope process?

Define Scope: Outputs

1. Project Scope Statement

Project scope statement is the most essential output of define scope process which describes project scope, project’s deliverables, assumptions, and constraints. This documents entire scope.
The project scope statement addresses mainly six areas described below:
  • Product scope description
Describes in detail about the product, service or result than the project charter and requirements documentation.
  • Deliverables
Any tangible or intangible product or service produced as a result of phase or project can be called as deliverables which may also contain documentations or PM reports.
  • Acceptance criteria
Acceptance criteria describes essential criteria or conditions which needs to be met as per customer expectation in order to accept deliverables.
  • Project exclusions
Project exclusions clearly states what is out of project’s scope. It mainly helps to prevent scope creep.
  • Project assumptions
Project assumption is one of the aspects that are thought to be right but cannot be proved.
  • Project constraints
Restriction or limitation factors that affects execution of project such as project budget, milestone dates, certain regulatory standards etc.

2. Project Documents Updates

Few project documents are updated as a result of define scope process. These documents may be assumption log updated with additional assumptions or constraints, requirements documentation updated with additional or changed requirements, requirements traceability matrix updated to reflect updates in requirement documentation and stakeholder register updated with new stakeholders.

What are the major elements of project scope statement and project Charter?

Project Scope Statement
Project Charter
Project scope description
Project Purpose
Project deliverables
Measurable project objectives & related success criteria
Project acceptance criteria
High-level requirements
Project exclusions
High-level project description, boundaries and key deliverables
Project assumptions
Summary milestone lists
Project constraints
High-level project risks

Key stakeholders list

Available budget summary

Requirements of project’s approval

Criteria for project exit

Level of authority of assigned project manager

Name and authority of person authorized for project charter


I hope, we clearly understand the process of defining scope from project requirements.

Main outcome of Define scope process is Project scope statement which is crucial for every project. This chapter is very much important to for PMP examination also.

Next article will be based on fourth process of Project Scope Management i. e “Create Work Breakdown structure (WBS)” which also falls under planning process group.

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Thank you for taking time reading this article.

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