The Scope of Work (SOW)

Whether you are a seasoned project manager or an accidental project manager, one of the first things that you need to tie down on taking over a project is the scope of work (SOW).

Without knowing the scope of work, how can you know if you are achieving it?

Another very good reason to get the scope of work tied down straight away is a thing call scope creep, more of that later, but needless to say it can and will kill your budget.

The Association of Project Managers’ definition is; “Scope management is the process whereby outputs, outcomes and benefits are identified, defined and controlled.”

So, put simply, the scope of work is what is included in the project to be completed. Now initially you may think that this is obvious, however your view of whats included may be wildly different to that of the project sponsor or stakeholder. If you get this wrong then your project will more than likely over run in either time or money or both.

The scope of work should be a formal document, it should be agreed at the outset with the project sponsor/stakeholder/customer.

Depending on the complexity of the project this could be a multi page in depth document, or a simple one page word document. It may take several iterations of the project scope of work before both you and the project sponsor agree.

As the project progresses there may be a requirement to change the scope, this is fine and often expected, however document these changes after agreeing them with your project sponsor, make sure they are aware of the impact on time money, or project outcome. What they see as a simple feature add may have a massive impact on completion date that they are not aware of.

Always Always Always, have a Scope of Work for any project, without it you have no idea how you are progressing, whether you are achieving what your project sponsor requires, or if you are blowing your budget.

Jason Pope

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.