Scope definition involves identifying the major tasks required to produce the project deliverables and meet the objectives defined in the project budget proposal and the project charter, and the in-process or intermediate deliverables associated with these tasks.  For example, whereas the final project deliverable may be an implemented system with hardware, software, and user documentation, there is a whole set of in-process deliverables that must be prepared and approved appropriately.  Some examples are:

•    Requirements document
•    Installation hardware and software for the development team
•    System design document
•    Program specifications
•    Work plan
•    Test plans

A clear definition of these deliverables and the tasks required to produce them is very important in order to:

•    Define a baseline for performance measurement and control
•    Facilitate clear assignment of responsibilities
•    Reduce project risks by communicating clearly both the work to be done and the deliverables to be produced

Project tasks must be defined to develop, build, and install the product or system and to perform the associated project management activities.

There are two outputs of scope definition:

•    The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
•    The Task Definition Statements


The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) decomposes the entire project into a logical structure of tasks and activities that are tied to deliverables and to assigned responsibilities.  The WBS developed in Scope Definition is decomposed only three or four levels to produce the deliverables discussed above.   The WBS is developed in more detail in the Activity Definition Process to create work packages that have 1-3 week duration.

WBS work packages are developed by answering the question: “What tasks need to be done to produce the project deliverables?”.  The degree of detail and the organization of the WBS structure are subjective and reflect the preferences and judgment of the project manager.  The WBS will reflect the way that the project manager will plan, delegate responsibility, and manage and control the project.  In Scope Definition, the first 3 or 4 layers of the WBS should provide enough detail to show responsibility for all major deliverables.


There are two dimensions to the breakdown of the work: A product breakdown and a functional breakdown.  The characteristics of the WBS depend upon the nature of the project and how the project manager wants to plan and manage the work.  For example, if a project is broken into several implementation phases, it may be best to produce a product WBS.  Otherwise, a functional WBS can be developed to depict the associated project deliverables.


The high-level WBS can be presented as a diagram and/or in the form of an indented list (outline format).  This format fits easily into scheduling tools such as Microsoft Project.  However, it does not communicate the total project view as well as the hierarchical WBS diagram.

The Custom System Development WBS is shown below as an indented list or an outline format.


1.0 Feasibility Study
1.1 Define Business Problem
1.2 Define Business Objectives
1.3 Define Alternative Solutions
1.4 Business Justification
1.5 Prepare Feasibility Report
2.0 Analysis
2.1 Functional Requirements
2.2 Performance & Reliability Requirements
2.3 Hi-level Design Alternatives
2.4 Cost/Benefits Analysis
2.5 Development & Implementation Strategy/Plan
3.0 Design
3.1 System Design
3.2 Data Base Design
3.3 Security, Backup and Recovery Design
3.4 Program Specifications
3.5 System & Data Base Administration
4.0 Develop
4.1 Online Process
4.2 Batch Process
4.3 System Interface
4.4 User and Technical Documentation
4.5 Integration Testing
5.0 Implement
5.1 User Training
5.2 Acceptance Testing
5.3 Production Setup
5.4 Data Conversion
5.5 Production Cut-over
6.0    Infrastructure
6.1 Facilities
6.2 Install Development Hardware & Software
6.3 Install Production Hardware & Software
6.4 Network Upgrades

7.0 Project Management
7.1 Scope Management
7.2 Schedule and Cost Management
7.3 Quality and Risk Management
7.4 Human Resources Management
7.5 Procurement and Communications Management


Since it is easy to overlook needed deliverables, it is important to validate the initial WBS.

To validate the correctness of the WBS decomposition, the project team should ask the following questions:

•    Does the list of deliverables thoroughly describe and satisfy the project Scope Statement?
•    Do all deliverables fall within the project Scope Statement?
•    Would the customer be happy to receive these and only these deliverables?
•    Can each deliverable be cleanly assigned to a single individual or organization?
•    Are the deliverables described in a clear and unambiguous manner?

If the answers to any these questions are “no”, then the appropriate additions, modifications, and deletions should be made.

The final WBS should be reviewed with technical subject matter experts and experienced project managers who may have insights from their experiences on similar projects that could be valuable for the team to consider.

Finally, the WBS should be reviewed with the project sponsor and intended customers.  Project sponsors are often not fully aware of the magnitude of the effort needed to fulfill the project and can gain a more realistic understanding of what is involved when they examine the full WBS.


Every task or work package on the WBS must have a Task Definition Statement that contains the following suggested information:

•    Task name
•    Purpose
•    Key Assumptions
•    Approach
•    Responsible Organization
•    Responsible Individual
•    Task Deliverables
•    Task completion criteria, including approvals required.
•    Task start and finish/end dates (except for on-going support tasks such as data base administration)

During the Project Scheduling and Resource Planning phases of the planning process, the estimated resource requirements and costs as well as any dependencies on other tasks will be added to these documents to create the detailed WBS and Task Definition Statement.



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