Project Scope Statement

Crafting Effective Project Scope Statements for Project Management Success

Learn how to develop a project scope statement with clear project objectives as part of your tool kit for successful project scope management and be ready for project scope questions in the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam.

Mastering the Project Scope Statement

The project scope statement is the foundation of all project planning and execution activities. It captures the project objectives, deliverables, assumptions, boundaries, and constraints and must be approved by all stakeholders for the project to move forward. As part of the project management plan, the project scope statement ensures a shared understanding of the project ahead, with the intent of managing expectations, preventing scope creep, and realizing project goals within set parameters.

Project Scope within the PMI and Project Management Professional (PMP) Exam

Traditional project management recommends the Project Scope Statement as tool to guide project performance compared to the project’s original requirements, budget, and timeline.

  • Project Management Institute (PMI)® Learning Featured Topics states: “Change happens, and project scope management includes the process to manage scope changes and ensure the project will still come in on time and within budget.”
  • The PMI’s Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) 7th Edition describes the scope statement as the document detailing “the project scope, major deliverables, assumptions, and constraints.”
  • The PMI Knowledge Area of Project Scope includes the Define Scope process with an output of the Scope Statement.

The process of crafting a project scope statement and its components are potential topics within the PMI’s PMP exam.

Project Scope Statement Key Components

A project scope statement template will likely include:

  1. Acceptance Criteria: conditions that deliverables must meet to be accepted as fulfilling stakeholder requirements.
  2. Agreement: stakeholder signature or signoff to signal approval.
  3. Project Assumptions: conditions that are presumed to be true for the project plan and documented and monitored during the project in case they do become true.
  4. Project Constraints: limitations that potentially impact the project’s performance, such as resources, time, political shifts, regulatory changes, budget, or time.
  5. Exclusions: requirements, deliverables, and resources not within the project scope used  to set up boundaries and to prevent scope creep.
  6. Milestones: crucial events or achievements within the project’s timeline.
  7. Project Deliverables: the outputs resulting from the project may include documentation, products, or software, which can be tangible or intangible.
  8. Project Objectives: the specific goals the project has been created to fulfill; provide clear direction and purpose for the project.
  9. Project Scope Description: a detailed account of the work required to complete the project within the set boundaries; includes a summary of processes, tasks, resources, budget, and timeline.

The project scope statement components are brought together to ensure a shared understanding by stakeholders of what project success looks like.

Four Steps to Create a Project Scope Statement

Create a project scope statement in four steps: gathering requirements from stakeholders, defining project objectives and deliverables, identifying constraints and assumptions, and documenting scope exclusions and acceptance criteria.

1.      Gathering Requirements from Stakeholders

Stakeholders include all individuals or groups who affect a project or are affected by the project such as: leadership, customers, investors, vendors, and the project team. The project manager collects stakeholder requirements through workshops, focus groups, surveys, and interviews. Documenting stakeholder requirements as part of the project scope statement development, project requirements are more likely to align with desired project outcomes.

2.      Defining Project Objectives and Deliverables

Next, the project manager should document the project objectives and deliverables.

  • Project objectives should provide a clear direction for the work. To do that, they should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).
  • Project deliverables include  tangible and intangible project outcomes. If the project management plan is successful, the stakeholders  know what deliverables the project will produce.

These help the team and stakeholders know why the project has been created (objectives) and the planned outcomes (deliverables).

3.      Identifying Constraints and Assumptions

After defining the project requirements, objectives, and deliverables, the project manager moves to identifying the project constraints and assumptions.

  • Constraints are restrictions, like budget, time, resources, or regulatory requirements, that can impact project performance. Identifying constraints as part of the management plan helps the team know boundaries so that decisions throughout the project are within scope.
  • Assumptions are conditions that could impact the project. They are treated as true in the project plan so that if they occur, the team is better prepared to respond accordingly.

Later risk management work is more realistic and effective when the project scope statement includes constraints and assumptions.

4.      Documenting Exclusions and Acceptance Criteria

Finally, the project scope statement should include the exclusions and acceptance criteria.

  • Scope exclusions help achieve clarity regarding project deliverables. Documenting scope exclusions sets stakeholder expectations and reduces the danger of scope creep.
  • Acceptance criteria are the quality and performance conditions that deliverables must meet to be accepted.

The scope statement’s exclusions and acceptance criteria sections are a foundation for evaluating project deliverables before they may be accepted.

Benefits of a robust Project Scope Statement

A clear and specific scope statement benefits the project manager, project team, and stakeholders.

  • Alignment creates a foundation in which the project manager, project team, and stakeholders are aligned in purpose and understanding of the project ahead.
  • Risk Management sets clear boundaries for what is in scope or out of scope help manage changes to minimize adverse risks.
  • Expectation Management is easier for the stakeholders as the deliverables are set and project boundaries are defined from the start of the project.
  • Performance Measurement is enabled as a baseline of acceptance criteria, requirements, timelines, and deliverables by which to measure the project against is in place.
  • Stakeholder Satisfaction can be obtained with ongoing communication around project performance and progress to the approved goals and objectives.

Project Scope Statement vs. Project Charter

There are shared components between the project scope statement and the project charter, but they differ in level of detail and function.

  • Project Charter: static overview of the project scope with high-level details.
  • Project Scope Statement: a clear and detailed description of project components that is updated as necessary during the project.

Both include stakeholder input and require approval. Creating the documents can establish a strong stakeholder relationship that can foster better expectation management.

Best Practices for Writing a Scope Statement

A project manager can improve scope statements with these best practices.

  • Use clear and concise language: Avoid vague or ambiguous language to prevent misunderstandings later in the project. It serves as the team’s reference point during the project to ensure work is aligned with goals.
  • Involve stakeholders in the scope definition process: Including stakeholders from the outset ensures that the scope statement accurately reflects requirements and that realistic expectations can be set. Use interviews, surveys, meetings, and planning sessions to gather their input.
  • Review the scope statement regularly to assess changes so that appropriate action can be taken.

Whether you are applying for a PMP or earning professional development units to maintain your PMP, project managers should develop clear and comprehensive scope statements to minimize the risks of scope creep.

Common Project Scope Statement Challenges and How to Overcome Them

Earning a PMP is an accomplishment, however it does not mean that a project scope statement will always be easy to create.

  • Expanding, evolving, or never-ending Stakeholder expectations
    • Mitigation Approach: Conduct a stakeholder analysis, potentially as part of a stakeholder workshop or focus group, to document expectations while also implementing a practice of consensus-building within the group.
  • Vague or unrealistic Project Objectives
    • Mitigation Approach: Seek additional time with the stakeholders to get specifics for the objectives. Applying the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) model can help set realistic and attainable objectives.
  • Scope Creep
    • Mitigation Approach: Proactively set exclusions in the scope statement so that all know project boundaries before the project begins. Enforce a formal change management process by which any change request must be submitted, vetted, and approved before action is taken.
  • Shifting or unclear Requirements:
    • Mitigation Approach: Use workshops, surveys, and interviews during project scope work to obtain clear requirements and their approval. Conduct regular reviews of requirements during the project to maintain alignment with expectations and project boundaries.

The proactive nature of project scope work is designed to have comprehensive and clear scope statements to guide the project work to a successful outcome.

Project Scope Statements Examples

The following project scope statement examples include objectives, deliverables, exclusions, budget, and acceptance criteria.

New Construction Project Scope Statement

The project is building a new 3500 square foot community playground with play equipment, sunshades, and three tables with attached benches. The construction will follow eco-friendly building practices and be completed in 90 days within a $350,000 budget. Deliverables include play equipment, site preparation, foundation laying, structural work, electrical installations, and landscaping. Ongoing groundskeeping is not included. Equipment has a 1-year parts warranty to be transferred to the client at project completion. All labor will be bonded and insured by the company. Acceptance criteria include passing all building inspections and completing the project within the approved timeline and budget.

Marketing Campaign Project Scope Statement

We will improve the company culture with employee engagement initiative with a goal of a 25% increase in employee approval survey metrics, a 15% increase in internal social media engagement, and a 30% increase in employee attendance in company events over a 12-month period. Three full-time employee relations employees from the human resources team and one full-time employee from the marketing events team will be allocated at 75% capacity. There is an external spend of up to $250,000 for event-driven costs. Deliverables include employee engagement survey design, activation, and data analysis before/after the initiative; one in-person employee culture event (excluding employee travel costs); two virtual employee culture events; and a minimum of 45 posts on internal social media channels using initiative hashtags for tracking.

A well-crafted project scope statement serves project manager for not only project planning but overall project management as well.


The project charter (overview) and project scope statement (specifics) have related but different purposes. The project scope statement sets the boundaries for what is included or excluded from the project. PMI includes project scope management and project scope statement as part of Project Management Professional (PMP)® examcontent outline.

With a clear and specific project scope statement created from a systematic process of gathering requirements, defining objectives and deliverables, identifying constraints and assumptions, and documenting scope exclusions and acceptance criteria, the project manager and team have a foundation for project success.

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Erin Aldridge, PMP, PMI-ACP, & CSPO
Director of Product Development at
Erin Aldridge, PMP, PMI-ACP, & CSPO