The Process for Scoping a Project

Process – Stage 1 Initiation

Define the purpose.

The first part of any project is to confirm why it deserves to be chosen. The project’s rationale can be discovered through a guided inquiry process that looks at the following possibilities.

  1. Is there a goal or objective to be met?
  2. Is there a problem to be rectified?
  3. Is there an opportunity we can take advantage of?

There may be other reasons, but these three questions usually flush out why the project is being attempted.

List the outcomes

Our enquiry continues by uncovering the expected benefits the project will deliver. What do we expect to gain and what do those gains look like?  Mind mapping or asking stakeholders to list the outcomes they expect will assist in identifying the benefits.

Performance criteria

Delving deeper into the expected gains, we need to decide what does ‘good’ look like. Having determined the benefits, we need to establish their performance criteria and how they will be measured. This enables us to determine if we have achieved the benefits we were expecting. To gain a clearer picture, ask the following questions:

  1. What is the benefit we expect to gain?
  2. How can this benefit be measured?
  3. What does success look like?
  4. Will the value of the expected benefit exceed the cost involved in gaining it?
  5. How can this benefit be analysed and reported on?

Scoping Statement

The initial statement gives us an unmistakable description of what the project is. It is clear and concise synopsis that gives everyone involved an identifiable focus.
Ex. We’re landing the first human colony on Mars.


Having described the big picture of the project we need to list the components that make up the project. It is important at this stage that end users as well as senior management are engaged in this part of the process to ensure that the constituent parts of the project are listed.

The achievement of most of these deliverables will be the responsibility of the project team and are referred to as inclusions. However, there are some deliverables that are part of another project or program and these must be identified because they will impact the project. These are referred to as exclusions.


It is necessary to list project related assumptions in order that project team members are aware of what things are expected to ready or available. Assumptions in projects generate risks which may need to be mitigated. It is important that everyone is aware of these assumptions and the risks associated with them. All identified risks need to be recorded and analysed and a risk mitigation process developed for each risk with a designated person made responsible for each risk.


Well identified constraints can affect any part of the project scope, including procurement and resourcing. They fall into the key areas of:

  1. Time
  2. Cost
  3. Other, usually of a qualitative nature

There is a difference between a constraint and a desirable. The restrictions caused by legitimate constraints are imposed by external factors we have little or no control over. E.g., weather delay.
Desirables are associated with internal factors that have more room to manoeuvre.


Identifying what communication is required and how it will be conducted is extremely important. Creating the communication plan starts with identifying who all the stakeholders are. They can be identified by asking the following questions:

  1. Who pays for the project? (This can include sponsors, funders, lenders, and co-contributors).
  2. Who benefits from the project? (These are usually identified when conducting the benefit discovery process, mentioned above).
  3. Who is impacted by the project? (Projects bring about change that impacts those who may not benefit from it).
  4. Who governs or regulates the project? (Projects may have to meet safety, environmental, policy and other criteria. Usually there is a regulator responsible for ensuring that appropriate standards are met).

Once stakeholders have been Identified the information sent to them should be based on;

  1. Importance
  2. Content
  3. Frequency
  4. Method of Delivery

This becomes the basis of your communication plan.

Need help in scoping your next project, get in touch with us today.