A project’s boundaries define what is included in the scope of work. They set the lines or limits that mark what is included and what is excluded. Planners need to know a project’s boundaries in order to produce a project scope statement.
Having clearly defined boundaries for the scope of work sets fixed limits; they provide a reference point for those involved in the early stages of a project in deciding whether an item is ‘in’ or ‘out’. This then enables them to focus on, and plan for, what falls within the project boundaries (i.e. the scope of work).
What helps to define a project’s boundaries?
Project boundaries are defined by a number of markers. These include:
- the project phases (i.e. the end of the Initiation phase, for example, or the start of the Closure phase). The phases are bounded by distinct start and end points in the staged progress of a project, which each boundary having typical characteristics.
- the functions and features that stakeholders require of a project. These set natural limits for what the project should contain.
- what is expected of the project, and what goals are set for it
- the responsibilities, accountabilities and roles of all those who are vital to the project’s success.
Like any boundary, project boundaries mark a cut-off point: a start and an end, and a limit on what the project comprises. They also mark off its various components, hence acting as markers for milestones. These provide a sense of direction and progress for the project (i.e. when one milestone is achieved, the next one starts).
Project boundaries are normally defined during the initiation phase of the project, before proper planning begins.
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