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Scope management

What is Scope Management in Agile Project Management

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What is Scope Management in Agile Project Management

The following article is part of the self-preparation for the modern BVOP® Project Management Certification program.

This chapter explains the concept of Scope Management in the context of BVOP.

  1. What is Scope Management
  2. What is Scope?
  3. Who manages the scope of the project?
  4. How is the scope of the project managed?
  5. Agile Scope Management
  6. Gathering initial information
  7. Scope definition
  8. Scope validation
  9. Scope prioritization

What is Scope Management

Scope Management is the control of incoming requests for project changes and possible necessary adjustments that are not explicitly desired by stakeholders. Different reasons may lead to the need for change. Most often, however, this is the wish of the stakeholders. A change request may arise from feedback after functional tests, user usability tests, market and business changes, and many other factors.

What is Scope?

The scope is called the simple description of a project or product. The overall vision and description of the end-result are defined in the early stages of the project to refer to the later stages of development. The scope of the project often serves as a formal association between the participants in the project and can even be added to contracts.

Who manages the scope of the project?

The scope is most often managed by project managers, but often program managers, project directors, and project sponsors have the final say.

How is the scope of the project managed?

The most common approach to managing project scope is as follows:

  • The client or requesting party submits a request for change and describes their needs and priorities.
  • The project manager examines the request and analyzes the possible positive and negative outcomes. Other project teams and participants can consult the project manager on the change analysis.
  • The change is officially documented.
  • A process of formal approval or rejection of senior management representatives is underway.
  • Change is implemented as new functionalities are developed or the product is adapted.
  • The revised scope is now being formally defined again.

Agile Scope Management

Changing the scope of the project is considered a negative move and Waterfall project management practices and many managers avoid the changes at all costs. In many cases, this is a reasonable tactic.

However, BVOP improves the view on the scope of the project and recommends that the scope should not be considered as a static and fixed contractual composition, since in the absence of a change, the opportunity to increase the business value of the project may be missed. Agile thinking and approaches should view change not as an inconvenience, but as an opportunity.

About this chapter

This chapter is part of the BVOP Project and Program Management Certification program guide.

The BVOP suggests that the scope of a project is not fixed and may often evolve.

Understanding the scope as a fixed list of goals should not be a perception of organizations interested in the project. In many real-world situations, scope constantly changes, and this does not necessarily have to be seen as something to be avoided at all costs.

Many interested parties and individuals may be involved in the scope definition, and this may lead to an extensive list of demands. The scope of the project may need to change with time. 

Scope management may include the following activities:

Gathering initial information

Gathering initial information may require collaborative work between the stakeholders interested in the project (any parties interested in the project, their representatives, or such with knowledge about the project needs). 

This process is planned and conducted with the presumption of productivity, and each party has to follow this presumption.

Group sessions to define the scope of the project where more than one stakeholder is present can provide validation of the discussed needs. 

Scope definition

Scope definition details the collected information into a more organized and formal list.

Scope validation

A single project may end up with an extensive list of scope items, and they all may be requested as important or critical for the project.

Classic project management practices present the term "Not in scope," which usually means that a topic should not be seen as something to be included in the project. 

As the scope of the project can be extensive, the business value may not be clear. The BVOP suggests that, instead of "Out of scope" themes, prioritization of all the items of the project scope may be applied instead.

If an interested party has mentioned a topic that can be considered as Out of scope, it can still have some value, that's why it should not be ignored, but assessed prioritized.

Scope prioritization

Each scope item has a priority attribute which may have the following values:

  • Definite
  • Very likely
  • Likely
  • Possible
  • Unlikely

The scope of the project, in the form of prioritized items, can be useful after certain ideas evolve and the need for these items increases. It makes project teams and stakeholders aware of what can be implemented later on in the project.

The collected formal list of scope items needs to be double-checked and agreed upon by all interested parties.

The following issues related to chapter "Scope management" are included in the certification exam. The sequence of questions is presented in the table.
The data is current as of July 17, 2024, 9:48 pm

ID Issue Time Category
0 Gathering initial information 60 sec PM, PDM
1 Scope prioritization 60 sec PM, PDM
2 How is the scope of the project managed? 60 sec PM, PDM
3 Agile Scope Management 60 sec PM, PDM
4 Scope definition 60 sec PM, PDM
5 What is Scope? 60 sec PM, PDM
6 Who manages the scope of the project? 60 sec PM, PDM
7 What is Scope Management 60 sec PM, PDM
8 Scope validation 60 sec PM, PDM

Comments from the BVOP™ community on “Scope management”


Scope management involves controlling requests for project changes and making necessary adjustments that may not be explicitly desired by stakeholders. Change requests can arise from various factors, such as feedback from tests, and market and business changes. The scope refers to the overall vision and description of a project or product, which is defined early on and serves as a formal association between project participants.

Project managers typically manage the scope, but program managers, project directors, and sponsors may have the final say. The process of managing project scope involves analyzing change requests, documenting them, seeking formal approval or rejection from senior management, implementing changes, and redefining the scope.

Agile Scope Management suggests that the scope of a project should not be considered fixed and unchangeable, as this may cause missed opportunities to increase business value. Unlike Waterfall management practices, Agile thinking views change as an opportunity rather than a problem.

The scope of a project is not fixed and can change. Organizations interested in the project should not view the scope as a fixed list of goals. Many parties may be involved in defining the scope, which may lead to an extensive list of demands. Scope management includes gathering initial information, defining the scope, validating it, and managing changes. Collaborative work is required to gather initial information, and group sessions with stakeholders can validate project needs.

Scope definition organizes information into a formal list. Sometimes, there are too many items in the list and some may not be important for the project. In traditional project management, "Not in scope" means something should not be included in the project. Instead of disregarding topics, prioritize them. Even if a topic is out of scope, it may still have value and should be assessed.

Scope items are given priorities - Definite, Very likely, Likely, Possible, and Unlikely. Prioritized items can be useful as ideas evolve and need change. It informs project teams and stakeholders of what can be implemented later on. The formal list of scope items needs to be agreed upon by all parties.

Comments on “What is Scope Management in Agile Project Management”

  1. Laurence Mcdonald

    Hello everyone, I know that the scope of a project highlights everything that needs to be created in the "scope of the project". If the project has to be delivered that way, why do we do prioritization in the first place? Thanks a lot

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