In Project Management Training programs (as well as in Business Analysis Training programs), the term Scope is bandied about quite frequently. People who have been involved with projects for a long time have a good sense of what the term means; however, it can be somewhat confusing to people who are new to projects. The reason for the confusion is that there are a few different meaning to the term scope.
The first meaning is Product Scope. This refers to all of the features, functions, and attributes of the product that is actually being built as part of the project. This is sometimes also called Solution Scope because you might not be creating a product, but a service or some other result from the project. The Product/Solution Scope is one of the first things that must be defined on a project. It describes what the end result of the project will be. Many times, it is the Business Analyst who defines the Product/Solution Scope.
The second meaning is Project Scope. This refers to all of the work that must be done to actually create the product/solution of the project. Once you know your product/solution scope, you need to create a list of all of the actual activities that will be required to create it. The project scope describes how the end result will be created. It is the job of the Project Manager to define the Project Scope.
Think of it this way: The Product/Solution Scope is the WHAT of your project. What will the end result be? The Project Scope is the HOW of your project. How are you going to create the end result?
Here is a simple example: Imagine that you are on a project to create a new Web site. The Web site (and all of its features, functions, and attributes) is WHAT you’re going to create. Now, you need to decide HOW to create it by defining specific activities, like designing the screens, writing the code, and testing the site in various browsers. Those activities make up the Project Scope.
Product Scope and Project Scope are both important aspects of any project. They are different from each other, yet closely related. You can’t have one without the other.