Scope change

Scope change
See also

Scope change is any modification to the agreed-upon project scope as defined by the approved WBS. Scope changes may or may not require adjustments to cost, time, quality, or other project objectives. Most scope changes are result of:

  • an external event, e.g. a change in government regulations
  • an error or omission in defining the product, e.g. failure to include a required feature in the design of a product
  • a value-adding change, e.g. an environmental project is able to reduce costs by taking advantage of technology that was not available when the scope was originally defined

Scope changes are fed back through the planning process; technical documents and the project plan are updated as needed and stakeholders are notified as appropriate[1].

The scope change process

There is constant pressure for scope change to occur. To manage them requires a formal process that defines how the proposed changes will be evaluated. The objective of the approach is to insure approval of positive or revenue enhancing scope improvements while preventing unjustified or negative scope changes. The process is always approached in formalized manner.

The details of the cope change control process are communicated to project customers and other stakeholders during the planing phase. In contractual project relationships, the scope change process should be spelled out in the contract. Described is the paperwork that initiates the change and description of the approval process. The scope change process always involves obtaining customer signatures.

The management of scope change involves analysing the change to determine its impact on the project plan. Often the process incorporates other stakeholders and team member evaluations. Many organizations have single or multiple control committees composed of members from the various functional groups affected by as many four change control[2].

Small and large scope changes

There are small and large scope changes, which do not always correspond to the size of actual changes and thus require different approaches. The overall guidelines to indicate small scope change are[3]:

  • small scope change takes up eight hours of labour to accomplish
  • small scope change must not present any additional risks to the project
  • small scope change does not add new stakeholders or business users
  • no new issues are created as the result of a small scope change

If there is any doubt, consider a scope change to be large as a default. Large scope change planning involves the following entry processes:


  1. A.Hamilton 2001, p.455
  2. F. Toney 2001, p.128-129
  3. D.Epstein, R. Maltzman 2013, p.86-88


Author: Karolina Morga