Author: Rick Mastal

From the Archives: Benefits of a Scope Management Plan

By design, Project Managers (PMs) like structure, organization, and progress, and when there are deficiencies in one of these areas, we have a strong desire to jump in, correct it, and get the job done.

In our quest to identify issues, and find and implement mitigation options during the control and monitoring phase, we sometimes overlook the use of a key document developed in the planning phase to help manage the chaos: the Scope Management Plan (SMP). This document is a best practice, but is often forgotten once a project transitions from the planning phase to execution or monitoring and controlling phases due to of the number of activities needing a PM’s attention. The following tailored scope management plan is based of PMI and CMMI standards.

What is a Scope Management Plan

  • Documents the process to evaluate whether or not a request is within the contract’s scope
  • Defines how approved requests are prioritized and scheduled
  • Explains the roles and responsibilities for each participant in the scope management process

Benefits of a Scope Management Plan

When used properly, an SMP helps effectively manage the triple constraint elements (time/schedule, budget, and quality) as well as other factors:

  • Applicable to public (government) and private organizations and projects
  • Helps prioritize and reduce ad hoc work requests, which can save time and money
  • Allows for quantitative analysis to validate the need of an ad hoc request
  • Facilitates productive communications with stakeholders and their team
  • Serves as a tool to manage client expectations, work load balancing, and team morale

Applicable Contract Types

The SMP can be used on most contract types and has significant value if the project’s contract type is firm fixed with broad scope and general requirements (which can lead to many ad hoc activities).

Key Areas of a Scope Management Plan

  1. Defined roles and responsibilities
  2. Developed process

The following table outlines general roles and responsibilities involved in the scope management process.