What Is the Scope of Work

What Is the Scope of Work

Sometimes part of the SPMP, but often a separate document (or several), is the scope of work, statement of work (SOW), or, sometimes, statement of requirements (SOR), although this may get confused with the software requirements specification (SRS), which contains the detailed requirements. The SOW includes just enough particular details and specifications of components packaged so that they can be given to a subcontractor for implementation. The SOW may be included within, may be referenced as an appendix in the SPMP, or may reside in a completely separate document if it needs to be separated from the main document for security or other reasons.

Setting Boundary Conditions

It is generally easier for a project team to discover what the software project should contain than what it should not contain. The goal and objectives statements explain what is to be part of the final project scope. What is sometimes difficult to explain is what it will not contain, but this is absolutely necessary to help describe the edges of the project scope. Later, preparation of the SRS will detail the contents of what is contained more finely.

Use the Is/Is Not technique to help draw crisp boundaries around the project scope and its objectives separately. This technique is simple. For each goal or objective, your team uses brainstorming techniques to describe what it is and make a list for the team (see Figure (a).). Next, brainstorm a list of what it is not, and make that into a list. Both lists can then be used to make a list of assumptions about the project.

Is and Is Not Technique

This exercise pulls out concealed assumptions that team members had about the project scope or its work products. It is better to find that out early rather than get deep into the project and discover misunderstandings about the project objectives and scope. For example, using the example goal statement in Box 1. of  "What Is The Goal", we might say that the project:


●  internal;
●  a timesheet data-entry system;
●  Web-based;
●  for the engineering department;
●  to be deployed before we begin the next major external project;
●  to be successful per existing application deployment criteria;
●  to serve as a training project to familiarize the team with the new project management process.

Is not:

●  intended for use by other departments or external customers;
●  a full-blown labor accounting system;
●  intended to be accessed by PDAs or wireless Web cell phones;
●  required to interface to existing earned value management programs such as MS Project;
●  to be in beta test mode when the next external project begins;
●  to use outside contractors for development.

These characterizations become a way to crisply describe the edges of the project's scope. They translate easily into assumptions to be recorded for the project charter and SPMP. The assumptions then become the first risks of the project because if any of them is violated, the project scope is breached.
Often the scope of work is large enough to warrant its own document, instead of appearing as statements in a charter. On the other hand, at this early stage in the life cycle, the scope of work is just a rough planning item. Often, this document is referred to as the statement of work (SOW), statement of requirements (SOR), or software requirements specification (SRS). Sometimes, the SOW/SOR/SRS is subdivided into pieces that fully explain what a subcontractor is expected to do, in relation to the overall requirements. In these cases, the SOW/SOR/SRS may include nonspec items from the project management plan, such as status reporting protocol, payment schedules, and legal statements. Details and templates for SOW construction vary with industry and domain, but they usually carry the specifications of the product to be built in a format that can be separated from the other processes of the project.


software project, project scope, project charter, spmp, sow, sor, srs
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