7.0 Manage Scope


It is said that the only constant in the world is “change”. This is especially true for programs which by their nature are larger and more complex. Programs must be well planned but even the best plans are not perfect. The initial planning will require changes as the program progresses. You need to be diligent in your planning, but you don’t have to be perfect. You and your team need to do the best job you can given what you know at the time. That is good enough. After that you need to manage the changes. 

Program scope describes the totality of the work and the overall boundaries of the program. In a program, the initial scope of work describes the work of the entire program. As projects are initiated, each of them must describe their specific scope of work as well.

Sometimes the program manager thinks that scope management means having to tell the Program Sponsor ‘no’. That can make the program manager nervous and uncomfortable.

However, the good news is that managing scope is all about getting the Program Sponsor to make the decisions that will result in changes to project scope.

This is very important. The program manager and project managers must recognize when a scope change has occurred. They must then follow a predefined scope change process. This process ultimately brings the appropriate information to the Program Sponsor and allows the Program Sponsor to decide if the modification should be approved based on the business value and the impact to the project in terms of cost and schedule.

Project Scope Changes Must be Approved at the Program Level (7.0.P2)

The vast majority of scope change requests will be captured at the project level. Since the program contains many projects that are all trying to deliver common business value, it is important that scope change approval not be done at the project level. Projects have visibility into their own work, but they don’t have visibility into the interdependencies between projects. Therefore the projects don’t have the right level of understanding as to the impact of scope change requests across the projects. This requires that project scope changes be escalated to the program level for final approval.

Scope is managed at two levels.

  • Program scope. This is owned by the program. Changes to program scope are managed at the program level. 

  • Project scope. Guidance is given from the program to the projects on the process for managing scope. This is in the Scope Management Plan that is a part of the Program Management Plan. (If you did not create a Scope Management Plan the scope change processes would have been defined as a part of creating the program infrastructure.) Project scope changes are monitored at the program level to ensure they are tracked and actively managed. These project scope changes are elevated to the program for approval. The impact of an approved scope change request is communicated to the affected projects for them to manage.  

Managing program and project scope change is one of the primary responsibilities of the Program Office. 

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7.1 Manage Scope / Process

7.2 Manage Scope / Techniques

7.3 Managing Project Scope within a Program

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