How to set a clear project scope of services

project management

How to set a clear project scope of services

project management

What is a project? Generally, a project can be defined as an initiative or activity with an agreed end date, using resources and resulting in a defined outcome.

ANU Enterprise assists researchers and professional staff in delivering impact through project management services for Industry and Government.

But how do we know when the project is complete?

A Scope of Services is a critical element of starting up a project. Before developing a budget, timeframe, or Gantt chart, you need to know what your project is trying to achieve.

A detailed scope clearly communicates what the project team delivers, what quality and standards must be achieved, and when. The Scope of Services should let you answer the question, “How will we know when we’ve succeeded?”

The Scope of Services goes beyond identifying the project’s aim and objectives. It also addresses what will be considered and what will not be considered.

An example: Setting up a new course

Imagine you are setting up a pilot to test the market feasibility of a new course offering.

The scope will outline what format you are using to deliver the course (i.e., is it online or in person), how many classes will be included in the course, and how many students will be participating. You will also consider whether you are using existing IP or developing new IP and who will deliver it.

The scope of services is also the place to clearly define that the project will not include developing any subsequent courses or extra rounds of delivery.

An example: Defining a technology build

Suppose you are building a piece of technology to be included in a larger international build. In that case, the scope should outline if your build includes testing the equipment, who is responsible for shipping and insurance, and what kind of support you will be providing the larger build to implement your component.

The scope will drive the budget and timeframes of the project. If the project team doesn’t understand the scope of work, it will be much more challenging to stick to the budget and timeframe the project has set.

One of the critical roles of a project manager is to keep the project to scope. Scope, budget and timeframes are inextricably linked. If the scope changes during the project’s life, then the project team will need to consider how to adapt the budget and timeframes to accommodate the change in scope. When this happens, we call it Scope Creep.

If you want to learn more about setting a scope for an ANU project, contact our project management office at