What is the Difference Between Requirements and Scope?

difference between Requirements and ScopeWhat is the difference between Requirements and Scope?

This question may confuse people even after working in the project management role for years. We have an elaborate process where requirements are collected using various tools and techniques, but why is there another process that talks about scope?

The difference is simple.

Requirements define the product behavior. They indicate what is that users want from the product.

A carpenter needs to be able to drill 2-inch holes. This is the requirement. He needs a drill-bit that can drill 2-inch holes.

Scope indicates the activities that need to be done in order to achieve the requirements.

Scope is about figuring out what material and process goes into creating the drill-bit that has a diameter of 2-inches, and the acceptable tolerance limits. 

Scope can achieve partial set of requirements when the requirements are implemented across multiple phases or iterations (if you are using Agile methodology) by scoping part of requirements in each phase/iteration.

For instance, in Kathy’s Joggers’ Garden project, the requirement was to create a garden with a jogging/walking track. In the first phase of the project she decides to scope the landscaping part. In the second phase she scopes planting of saplings, and fixing water sprinklers. In the third phase she scopes laying of jogging tracks. Thus, one requirement is completed across three phases by scoping in part of the requirement in each.

In short, requirement is outward facing – specified by customer/business; and scope is inward facing – to be implemented by the project to satisfy requirements.

Requirements are capabilities that are required to be present in the product, service or result that project is supposed to produce, in order to satisfy a formal agreement (which could be a Contract).

Scope the sum of product, service or result to be provided by the project.

The project manager understands customer’s business requirements and then turns them into project scope.

That is why in PMBOK guide ‘Collect Requirements’ process is followed by ‘Define Scope’ process.

My requirement: is to let you take advantage of my study notes and pass your PMP exam.
My scope of work: would be to create useful lessons that explain PMP concepts in simpler and brain-friendly ways. 🙂

Which day-to-day examples can you think of that show the difference between requirements and scope? Let me know in the Comments below.

Once you do that, let us jump in and learn how to plan for managing scope on the project.

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Remy May 27, 2021, 12:28 am

    Requirement for serving a bean meal is to open a can, scope is usage of a can opener?

    Is it a solution or approach to meet the requirement?

    • Shiv Shenoy June 7, 2021, 11:43 am

      PMOBK defines the scope as “The features and functions that characterize a product, service, or result. And 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.
      Applying this definition to your scenario, yes – the usage of a can opener is part of the scope. For the sake of completion of this scenario, your example should serve the definition of the project, “A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result.” Maybe, preparing and serving the meal is your project in this case. 🙂

  • vivek June 1, 2017, 1:30 pm

    You are awesome…. Explained in very simple and great way .. Thanks…