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What You Should Know about Control Scope for the PMP Certification Exam

An important thing to remember for the PMP Certification Exam is that losing control of the project and product scope is the fastest way to get behind schedule and overrun your budget. Controlling the scope is challenging because stakeholders have differing ideas about what is in and out of scope, and senior managers and customers don’t appreciate being told they can’t have what they ask for.

However, if you want to have any hope of a successful project, you must control your scope! That doesn’t mean that your scope will never change — because it will. Rather, this means that all changes must follow the change control process, and all changes must take into consideration the impact on schedule, cost, quality, resources, risks, and so forth.

Control Scope. Monitoring the status of the project and product scope and managing changes to the scope baseline.

Scope Change. Any change to the project scope. A scope change almost always requires an adjustment to the project cost or schedule.

Scope Creep. The uncontrolled expansion to product or project scope without adjustments to time, cost, and resources.

Control Scope: Inputs

All control processes begin with the project management plan as an input. In the case of the Control Scope process, you will consider the following elements:

  • Scope baseline, comprising the scope statement, WBS, and WBS dictionary

  • Scope management plan, with a section describing how you will control project scope

  • Change control plan that describes the overall project change control system

  • Configuration management plan that describes how you will control the physical elements of the product

  • Requirements management plan that describes how you will manage and control project requirements

In addition to the scope baseline, you will need information about the requirements — specifically, the requirements documentation and the requirements traceability matrix.

Work performance data includes the deliverables that have started, their progress to date, and the deliverables that have been completed. You will also want to know the number of scope change requests and the status of those requests.

Control Scope: Tools and Techniques

The team takes the information from the inputs and performs a variance analysis. Take a minute and look at a few definitions.

Variance. A quantifiable deviation, departure, or divergence away from a known baseline or expected value.

Variance Analysis. A technique for determining the cause and degree of difference between the baseline and actual performance.

This is a fancy way of saying you are determining whether the scope you have is consistent with the scope that was planned. Variance analysis includes a technical and physical evaluation of the products. If you find a variance, you need to discover the degree of variance as well as the root cause. That information will help you determine whether you need to take any actions to resolve the variance.

Control Scope: Outputs

As a result of the variance analysis, you will have work performance information. The information is used to update your organizational process assets (OPAs), such as causes of variances and lessons learned. If your variances cross the threshold, you need to submit a change request for corrective or preventive actions or a defect repair.

You might also need to update various elements of the project management plan, such as the scope baseline and probably the schedule and cost baselines as well, because a change in scope usually causes a change in schedule and cost. You may need to update your requirements information, too.

The ability to control performance to the project management plan is prevalent in many of the monitor and control processes. However, it all starts with managing the project scope effectively. Therefore, it is predictable that the test questions on the ability to manage the project plan will focus on the Control Scope process.

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