Before You Say Computers Made The World A Better Place, Listen To The First Word And The Last Word From A Converted Racist*

Part of an ongoing series blogging the bejayzus out of Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK).

* The headline came from and has nothing to do with anything at all, however remotely, about Project Scope or Work Breakdown Structures.

Define Scope ITTO

Define Scope ITTO

Define Scope

We now write a detailed description of both product and project. This helps define boundaries by saying what is in and out.

This is because all of the requirements just collected may not be included in the project. A detailed project scope statement is critical to project success. The process of writing it can be iterative.

Inputs include the Scope Management Plan and Requirements Documentation developed in the preceding two steps. The Project Charter is also an input as are organizational process assets.

Tools and techniques include expert judgment that draws on consultants, other business units and professional associations. It’s not just your judgment, in other words.

Product analysis can be useful where a physical deliverable is involved. This technique includes product breakdown, systems analysis and systems engineering.

Alternatives generation is where as many options as possible are identified. The final tool is facilitated workshops.

The first output of Define Scope is the Project Scope Statement. It describes in detail the scope, major deliverables, assumptions and constraints.

It pertains to the entire scope. The scope may also explicitly exclude certain work and can therefore help manage expectations.

The Project Scope Statement is different than the Project Charter because it contains more detail and is continuously updated throughout the project.

The second output is project document updates to the stakeholder register, requirements documentation, etc., etc.

Create WBS

This is where we break project work in to smaller, more manageable pieces.

For inputs, the Create WBS process draws heavily on the previous three outputs: scope management plan, project scope statement and requirements documents.



The WBS is hierarchical and covers the work in the current scope statement.

The lowest WBS levels are work packages. When we talk about work in the WBS, we mean products or deliverables as distinct from activities.

The WBS represents project work. The total at the lowest levels rolls up to the higher levels so that nothing is left out and nothing extra is done – the 100% Rule.

One of the key WBS tools and techniques is decomposition which divides and subdivides deliverables into manageable pieces.

The level this is done to depends on the level of control needed for effective project management.

Expert judgment, meanwhile, can help analyze information. It can also come as templates that provide guidance on decomposition.

A WBS can be shown: Using phases of the project; using major deliverables; or by incorporating subcomponents.

Excessive decomposition can waste management time. Decomposition may not be possible for deliverables far in the future.

Outputs include Project Document Updates and the Scope Baseline.

This is the approved scope statement, WBS and WBS Dictionary. The latter contains detailed deliverable, schedule and activity about each WBS component.


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  1. Pingback: Collect Requirements or Die! | John P. Muldoon

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