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Fundamental Elements of a Project Scope Document
By Justin Phipps

For project management to be successful, documentation and communication are critical. With a formal, written Project Request in hand, followed by a hosted requirement review and creative meeting with stakeholders, you’re now ready to lock down the details in a Scope Document.

I’m not fooling myself to think a Marketing person will enjoy writing out every detail of every project. What I can promise is the solace of knowing you have documentation if scope creep rears its ugly head.

In this article, I’ll provide you the basic structure of a Scope Document. The level of detail is up to you since, initially, it’s important that you simply begin the process of documentation. This format may change over time to meet the unique requirements of your organization and the clients with whom you interact.

  • Project Description – Provide a summary of the project, including the problem/opportunity, goals/objectives and any information that will help the team understand the need for the project. Outline specific requirements in this section.
  • Design Requirements – Outline what format(s) will be used in the deliverables (presentation/PDF/video/email/web page/…). Identify the target audience, their level of sophistication (industry knowledge or technology comfort level), and any parameters — such as dimensions required to fit in an existing packet.

  • Technical and Infrastructure Requirements – What process and procedures are required for ongoing maintenance. Is new hardware or software required to support this project? Is it a large display or large print quantity that requires storage? If you’re outsourcing a portion of the project, will this same vendor be need to provide maintenance or can it be built specially for in-house servicing.

  • Functional Requirements – Insert an outline of all the functionality you would like for your project. For a website, what is the desired activity and actions by the user? For a technical display, what functionality should be successfully demonstrated?

  • Estimated Project Duration – Here’s an example:

    Task Hours
    Description – broad categories or by resource 0 hours
    Description 0 hours
    Description (add more as needed) 0 hours

    Total

    0 hours
  • Assumptions and Agreements – Insert a list of any assumptions or agreements the project sponsor must meet to maintain project goals/objectives and timelines. If this document is reviewed and signed without revisions than these assumptions become facts.

  • For Additional Information or Clarification – Identify the Project Sponsor and provide a list of any additional contacts that may be referenced to clarify specific questions related to the project. You can include Marketing or contractor contact information for easier reference but you should be the only one using this information.

  • Project Deliverables and Timeline – Document the date materials are due to Marketing, the date Marketing resources will begin working on the project, milestones and completion date.

    The last element is to include an area to capture signatures and signing date. This serves as verification that all stakeholders have read the Scope Document and agree on its accuracy, completeness, terms and cost. This includes; 1) the Project Sponsor, 2) the person who’s budget is covering the cost of the project, and 3) the Project Manager or Marketing Director.

The project requirements may change over time but this document should not be edited once it’s signed. Any modification to the requirements, adjustment in timeline or cost, or change of Project Sponsor or key stakeholders are documented in an amendment to this document. Another good rule of thumb in all documentation is to use job titles in place of specific names as much as possible.

Provide copies of the signed Scope Document to stakeholders or make it available on a common drive, Intranet or file server. Also, bring this document into every meeting where the project will be reviewed or discussed so you can provide immediate clarification if questions arise.

Every department in your organization should be using similar documentation in their endeavors. If not, they should, and Marketing can take the lead in making this evolutionary change so your company can enjoy new levels of collaboration and success.

Justin Phipps is the president of Phippstastic Consulting. You can read more from Justin on his blog.

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