Development Cooperation Handbook/Designing and Executing Projects/Guidelines/How to write a scope statement
A fundamental output of the initiation stage is the project scope document.
The project scope document is produced through a process of reciprocal understanding amongst:
- the project team (that has to deliver the project outputs)
- the beneficiaries (who have to utilize the outputs so as to contribute to the achievement of the project expected outcomes)
- the project sponsors (who are interested that the project impact contributes to the achievement of the project objectives)
- the deliverables
- with the expected outcomes
- and the desired impact.
A good project scope document hence clarifies :
- how the project outputs (once delivered) will contribute to the achievement of the project expected outcomes;
- how the achievement of the project expected outcomes will contribute to the achievement of the .e. the project "overall objectives" that must be pertinent with the objectives of the programme to which the project is a component.
During the initiation stage the project objectives (i.e. the solutions to the problem) have been identified. While defining the scope in project initiation we define the requirements of the beneficiaries so that they are empowered in contributing to solve the problems and achieve the objectives. The project will then be designed to deliver those products, services and know ledges that satisfy such requirements.
The scope document will not include a definition of the activities, i.e. the work needed in order to produce the project deliverables. (They will be defined, broke down and budgeted in the project plan , i.e. the final output of the detailed planning phase of project management.)
The activities that project teams carry out must produce outputs that will empower project beneficiaries to better interact with their communities and utilise project deliverables to achieve the project outcomes These outcomes will enable the communities to tackle the problems identified and produce changes in the factors generating these problems, thereby contributing to the achievement of the project objectives To make the project successful, it is necessary that project teams understand the requirements, needs and problems of the beneficiaries and that the beneficiaries understand the requirements, needs and problems of the communities.
In a nutshell the difference between direct results (outputs) and indirect results (outcomes) is:
- achieving the project direct results (outputs) is the direct responsibility of the project team, i.e the products and services that the project team is committed to deliver. (for instance # hours of training, # public events, # products consigned, facilities made available, etc.)
- the project objectives (that will become the project outcomes after they are achieved) represent the overall changes towards which the project is expected to contribute but that the project by itself is in no way sufficient to determine. (e.g. improved health; improved social relations, etc).
Between the outputs directly delivered by the project (which are very specific) and the overall project objectives (which tend to be very general) it is important to define a series of expected project "outcomes", i.e. the changes occurring as an expected direct consequence of the project but which are not directly achieved by the project team and are a consequence of the proactive participation of other project stakeholders besides the project team; they are expected to capitalize the project results and use them according the plan expectations. (for instance # trained persons get better employment; community awareness and solidarity increased as a consequence of # awareness building events held; outputs of # farm land increased with the utilization of the capital goods consigned; health care made more accessible through the utilization of the facilities provided, etc.). A step beyond the project outcomes is the project "impact", that is how the environment has been modified as a consequence of the acceptance or refusal of the project outcomes. We can define the project "impact" as the actual level of contribution t the achievement of the project objectives.
If the project team has correctly understood the needs and problems of the target beneficiaries, they will be able to utilise the outputs to empower beneficiaries, i.e. move from outputs to outcomes If the project beneficiaries have correctly understood the needs and problems of the communities, they will be able to empower communities, i.e. move from outcomes to impact Without active contribution of beneficiaries, project outputs will not be utilised to achieve project outcomes Without active contribution of communities, beneficiaries will not be able to utilise outcomes to achieve impact.
Besides deciding outputs that are relevant to the achievement of the objectives it is also important to define properly the specifications and the quality requirements of the project outputs. If these specifications are proved wrong and the beneficiaries will not accept the project outputs (see Management of the Acceptance of Deliverables), the project will not lead to the expected outcomes and therefore the project will fail to contribute to the achievement of its objectives.
While preparing the scope statement one should also make sure that the project conforms to the programme requirements. In fact a project is a generally a component of a wider programme. This means that the specific objectives of a project would contribute to the achievement of the expected programme results. While preparing a scope statement the project designer should clarify how the project specific objectives contribute to the achievement of programme expected results; programme expected results therefore should be identical with the "overall", or "general" objectives of the project.
Writing a scope statement
The project scope document, should include at least:
- Project justification: The need that the project meant to address and the solutions envisaged.
- Project outcomes : The changes expected as a direct consequence of the delivered project outputs.
- Project outputs: The deliverables (products) and direct results (services, events, etc.) that the project team is expected to deliver and that will lead to the project outcomes.
In more project oriented organizations the scope statement may also contain these and other sections: Milestones, Cost estimates, Management Plan, Approved Change Requests, Project assumptions and risks, Project acceptance criteria.
Scope statements may take many forms depending on the type of project being implemented and the nature of the organization. The document specifying the scope statement may be called differently in different organization (i.e. proposal, concept paper, etc.); the statement may be more or less comprehensive according to the division of milestones in the phases of project designing and the attribution of related tasks to managerial levels within the organization.
To write a scope statement, include the following sections:
The project justification
The project justification describes a problem to be resolved, an opportunity to be exploited, or a benefit to be obtained. One generally derives the project justification from the strategic objectives and programmes of the organization.
The project justification needs to be clear and precise, and one should include both qualitative and quantitative measures. After the project is started, its justification becomes the basis for motivation for your stakeholders (as the project is seen as benefiting the project/programme purpose).
The project objectives
The project objectives must:
- Address all the work within the scope of the project.
- Not address work outside the scope of the project.
Note Unquantifiable objectives (such as beneficiary satisfaction, enhancement of culture, etc.) involve high risk of confusion and vagueness.
While preparing the scope document one should make sure that the project conforms to the programme requirements. In fact a project is a generally a component of a wider programme. This means that the specific objectives of a project would contribute to the achievement of the expected programme results. We thereby call the programme expected results as the "overall, or general, objectives of the project.
The project deliverables (products and services)
Define possible solutions to the problem (for example, the project justification); specifically, identify the solution that you selected for your project. The project deliverables besides describing briefly the deliverables (and the expected quality standards of the products/services) also includes:
- What the project team can do directly to help to resolve the problem and produce the benefits.
- Who are the other actors whose contribution in is essential for resolving the problems:
- Who outside of the project team is expected to capitalize the project outputs and contribute to the achievement of the project objectives.
- The interactions of this project with other projects.
- The pertinence and integration of this project to recognised programmes and strategies.
It is crucial that you identify work that might fall outside the project scope as well as how the project work might interact with other projects. This identification is important because it enables you to set expectations with your beneficiary and project team.
Does the scope statement answer to these questions?
- The title the project is: _____________________
- The problem this project will address is: _______________
- This project is conceives within the framework of a wider programme; the programme goal (expected result) is: ___________
- The objectives this project will achieve to accomplish that goal are: _________
- The deliverables resulting from this project are: __________________
- The procedures for determining whether the project objectives have been accomplished are: _____________
- The population served is: _________ _______
More details in the Checklist for the Internal approval of the project