What is 'Scope'

Scope is a project management term for the combined objectives and requirements necessary to complete a project. Properly defining the scope of a project allows a manager to estimate costs and the time required to finish the project. A project's scope includes all of the information and deliverables that are expected as the project progresses toward completion. It also outlines the project boundaries by specifying what is not included within the scope of the project and can include information pertaining to the project budget or available resources.


Information regarding the project schedule as well as the assignment of tasks can be included within the scope. Often, the various work groups that will be participating will also be named in order to clarify which personnel, internal or external, may be involved with the project.


A deliverable can include any objectives or milestones within a project. This can include the creation of products, services, or processes. Additionally, it can include incremental changes, staged across the project plan, used to help govern or assess the pace of the project’s progress.

Product Scopes

When a project is responsible for the creation of a product, the defining the characteristics of the particular product are required. This includes physical specifications, such as size and materials, as well as functional requirements, such as what the product will do and how quickly the product will complete an action.

Example of Defining the Scope

If the project was to design an airplane, the scope would include the requirements of the plane, such as how many passengers it can carry or how fast it should be able to travel, as well as information pertaining to the ideal size, materials and any associated costs of development. Additional information pertaining to the goals and the associated timeline can be included, such as developing a concept sketch in week one, to serve as a road map to product development.

Project Management and Project Scope

It is the responsibility of the project manager to ensure that the scope's deadlines are met, allowing for smooth completion of the project. The timeline may be sidetracked by additional tasks, referred to as scope creep, which occurs when the project gains additional features or requirements without extending the deadline.

Scope Creep

Scope creep is most commonly associated with a project scope that was initially considered complete when it was begun. As the project progresses, small changes to the original plan occur expanding the scope from the original limit. Those small changes lead to other changes, resulting in a cascading effect of additional considerations and requirements.