What is the Difference between Product Scope and Project Scope? – One of the Frequently Asked Question on our various Forum interactions. Since it is an important concept both for PMP® and PMI-PBA® exam, in this blog I am presenting a detailed perspective on both of these concepts. First, let’s discuss a simple example: David, an office executive, made a call to a Fast Food Centre to order the “Aloo Tikki” burger, and he mentioned that he needs delivery at his home. In this scenario, what do you think – which is Product Scope and which is Project Scope?

Here, David is asking the Burger which is a Product and “Aloo Tikki” is the specification of that burger. In this case, the specification is the Product Scope and to deliver this Product; someone needs to go to the David’s house. The work to deliver the Burger to David House is the Project Scope.

project scope

Let us understand the basics, i.e. what are these two scope:
PMBOK® Guide Sixth Edition defines Product Scope as:

The features and functions that characterize a product, service, or result

For your projects, the Product Scope is the sum of all the features and functions of a product, service, or a result. In other words, Product Scope defines all the capabilities of a product from the User point of view. The Product is the end result of your project and characterizes by the Product Scope. Thus, the Product Scope description includes features of a product, how the product will look like using these features, and how will it work. Product Scope also describe the ways of measuring the product performance.
The Product Scope in case of a service could be the actions and responsibilities of the people delivering the service.

PMBOK® Guide Sixth Edition defines Project Scope as:

The work performed to deliver a product, service, or result with the specified features and functions. The Term project scope is sometimes viewed as including product scope

As the definition states, the Project Scope is an agreement of the work which is needed to deliver the product, service, or result. To develop a product features, you establish a project which has a schedule, budget, and resource allocation. In other words, the work you do to construct your product is the Project Scope.

Let us study an example to get more clear Idea about Product Scope and Project Scope: Suppose your organization has a Business Need – Increase sale by 40% using inclusion of algorithms in existing e-commerce solution to predict and influence human behavior. Your product Scope will include all those features which will support to develop a feeling in your customers that solution is here to shape their life. In this scenario, the Product Scope could be:

  • Recommend product to customers based on their purchase pattern
  • Create customize home page for the customer
  • Report the increase of sale in a month
  • Data Conversion and Migration from old solution to the new solution

In this example, following are the details of how can you define the Project Scope: Here,the Project Scope will include the processes of getting fully functional e-commerce solution. Your Project Scope could be defined as:

  • Communication with Subject Matter Experts, Developers, and Designers to write algorithms
  • Setting up overall budget and timeframes for final delivery
  • After every iteration, giving demo to the stakeholders
  • Infrastructure transitions of servers and network devices to integrate with the new system
  • It can also include the Product Scope

The Project scope includes all the activities required to deliver the Product Features, thus it defines how to get the product components. In other words, the Project Scope includes all the work to develop the Product.

There can be a case where Project Scope is less than overall Product Scope; this can be in a situation when you are not responsible for developing the whole product.

To summarize, lets consolidate the differences between the Product Scope and the Project Scope:

Product ScopeProject Scope
The Product Scope has a sum of all the features including their specification and how these features work together.The Project Scope includes all the work to deliver the Product. Inside the Project Scope, the Product Scope can also be included, as It defines all the actions to develop the product
The responsibility for defining product scope is assigned to the resources that have business subject matter expertise. Defining Product Scope comes under activities of Business Analysis. Project Manager may also play the hybrid role of doing both business analysis and project management both. Thus, you may or may not have Business Analyst assigned to your project.The Project Manager is in charge of the Project Scope. Depending on product and product quality of service requirements needed Project Manager defines the amount of work required (Project Scope) to achieve those required items.
Requirement Traceability Matrix (RTM) is a valuable tool to monitor & control the Product Scope. RTM ensures in monitoring that proper supporting requirements artifacts (such as models, documentation, and test cases) are produced, reviewed and approved throughout the lifecycle.
RTM also helps in manage changes to product requirements by assessing impacts, dependencies, and risks in accordance with the change management plan, helps in maintaining the integrity of the requirements and associated artifacts.

Variance Analysis can also be used in monitoring & controlling Product Scope.

Variance Analysis is used to monitor & control the Project Scope. As Requirement Traceability Matrix helps to ensure that each requirement adds business value, thus it is normally created to monitor and control the Product Scope only.
Availability, reliability, security, etc. are the Non-Functional quality of service requirements and comes in the Product Scope.Only quality characteristics of Project deliverables comes in the Project Scope, which is expected to meet defined quality requirements like managing human resources without forcing them working overtime.
Solution requirements map to the Product Scope as these are directly related to the features of the Product.Requirements other than solution requirements map either to Project Scope or Product Scope depending on the nature of requirements types For example, in above e-Commerce example, two different transition requirements map to Product and Project Scope respectively, as shown below:

  • Data Conversion and Migration from old solution to the new solution (Product Scope)
  • Infrastructure transitions of servers and network devices to integrate with the new system (Project Scope)
Product Scope is validated by examining if it can solve the Business Problem and meet the intent of Business stakeholders.Each Project has a schedule, budget, and resource allocation.Project Scope is validated to check if it constraining the delivering of Product Scope.

To conclude, the Product Scope defines the solution itself, and the Project Scope says how to get that solution.I hope this blog has sufficiently answered your all queries related to the difference between Product Scope and Project Scope and how these two are different from one another. You can enroll in our online PMP® or PMI-PBA® program to learn project management and business analysis concepts. Our programs will give you a unique way of learning which supports you to crack the exam in the first attempt. Depending on your need you can join either PMP® or PMI-PBA® which will give you a good kick start for your exam preparation till you certified.

If you have any query regarding writing the Project Scope or Product Scope, post your questions in the comment box below.