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  Difference between Product Scope, Project Scope and Requirements

When I was preparing for the PMP Exam I was really confused by the terms Product Scope, Project Scope and Requirements. Not that I didn't understand what requirements were, it's just the academic definitions of the PMBOK Guide that clouded my mind. The easiest way for me to understand any concept is to look at examples. Unfortunately, the PMBOK Guide doesn't have many. Even the popular exam prep guides don't offer elaborate examples. Now that I have a better understanding, let me help you understand these concepts better. First, we'll look at the PMBOK Guide definition of these terms, then put them in simple words and finally look at some examples to reinforce the concepts.

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PMBOK Guide definitions

Product Scope: The features and functions that characterize a product, service, or result.

Project Scope: The work that must be performed to deliver a product, service, or result with the specified features and functions.

Requirement: A condition or capability that must be met or possessed by a system, product, service, result, or component to satisfy a contract, standard, specification, or other formally imposed document. Requirements include the quantified and documented needs, wants, and expectations of the sponsor, customer, and other stakeholders.

Simplified definitions

Requirements are "what" the customer needs. Requirements can be of many types. For example, product related requirements, performance requirements, quality requirements, project management requirements etc.

Product Scope refers to requirements that specifically relate to the "product" of the Project.

Project Scope is all the work that goes in producing the product.


Let's say you have a plot of land and you want to build a house on it.

Product: The house.

Product Scope: The house should have 3 storeys, 1000 sq.m. of built-up area, 4 bedrooms with attached baths, 2 living rooms, a kitchen, a basement and a garage. The exteriors should be white.

Project Scope: Hiring a building contractor, an architect and an interior designer, acquiring legal permits, estimating the cost, taking bank loan, planning for risks such as rain and storms, designing the house, buying construction material, constructing the house, doing the interiors, buying furniture, conducting inspections, conducting regular site visits to track the progress and resolving disputes, making payments and compensations, closing contracts, and moving in.

Requirements: In addition to the Product Scope there could be other requirements for the house. Using a particular grade of cement could be your quality requirement. Making the house earth-quake proof could be a performance requirement. Getting a weekly progress update from your contractor, and making monthly payments could be your project management requirements.

I hope you get a better picture now.

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  1. Very good example, it simplifies the concept and direct feeds to the brain !!
    Thanks a lot !

  2. Are the requirements in Project Scope Statement and Requirements Documentation same or Project scope statement is having elaborated requirements document?

  3. @ Anonymous:

    That's a good question.

    A simple answer is that Project Scope Statement doesn't include the requirements. Requirements are in the requirements document.

    In fact, requirements documentation is an "input" for creating the Project Scope Statement.

    Refer to my example above.

    Project Scope Statement contains the list of deliverables and the work required to create those deliverables. In addition, it also provides the acceptance criteria, assumptions and contraints and can also explicitly list the exclusions (what is NOT included in the scope).

    I hope it answers your question. Feel free to ask more questions.

    All the best.

  4. Hi Harminder, I have been referring sevreal books including head first PMP, i must honestly say that you have cleared by doubts on the product scope & project scope, they sound simple but unless explained properly , it is difficult to absorb the concept .

    I suggets you write a book on PMP.
    God Bless you.

  5. Hello Deepak,

    Thanks for your wonderful comments. Sure, I'll take your suggestion seriously, though I have a lot to learn before I get there :)

    BTW, you might want to refer to other similar articles (on commonly confused terms) here:

    Study Notes

    Stop-by frequently and leave your feedback and suggestions, and let me know if you have any particular topics that you want me to cover.

    Thanks again.

  6. Thanks Harminder,
    Also, a few typo in my earlier comment i posted.

    I have corrcted the same.
    pls replace it with these lines.
    Hi Harminder, I have been referring several books including head first PMP, I must honestly say that you have cleared my doubts on the product scope & project scope, they sound simple and similar but unless explained properly , it is difficult to absorb the concept .

    I suggest you write a book on PMP.
    God Bless you."

  7. In order for the team to be successful, the “3 legged stool concept” incorporates People, Process and Tools to keep the project within scope and successfully within the allocated budget”

    1. People – The human assets allocated to the project and have the necessary skills to complete certain functions and activities within the project. Project teams are established to define and execute the plan and must be managed in concert with each other to perform the needed work the project requires.

    2. Process – Structure is key to keeping the project teams on task. Having defined processes in place help to keep the teams working in the unison. Process and structure ensure your resources are working effectively and that the management team is able to receive and address issues as they bubble up.

    3. Tools – Project tools are in place to keep track of all the different tasks and resources tied together to identify dependencies, and critical paths within the project structure. These tools can range from communication documents to Gant charts and help the project teams to stay organized and effectively working together on the right tasks at the right time.

    Gravity Gardener

  8. Nicely explained...Thanks! Ever think about writing a
    "pmp for dummies" guide? :)

  9. According to PMBOK, Product Scope Description conatined in Project scope Statement,

    "Progressively Elaborates the characteristics of the product Service or result described in project charter and requirements documentation"

    does this mean that product scope description elaborates each requirement mentioned in requirements document. ?

  10. Harry,
    Amazing post and thanks for your efforts...could sound little Cliché though.
    Just beginning my journey towards PMP and planning to finish by March...
    With the help like "Deep Fried Brain" I am feeling confident...... fault will be all mine if I flunk.
    Thanks again

  11. I do not think that this example works. Requirements come first and scope is derived from the requirements. Requirement is "solid walls" and combined with some other quality requirements this should lead to scope "using cement of type xyz" to fulfil quality requirements.

  12. very nice explanation.

  13. Hi Harwinder,

    It is very well explained but in your one of the answer you mentioned PROJECT SCOPE STATEMENT will not have requirements. I am little confused on this point as HEAD FIRST PMP sample project scope statement on page 178 it does show Project Requirment as one of the item.

    Could you please elaborate Requirement Documentation Vs Project Scope statement

    1. Hi.

      I came here with the intention of asking the same question to Harwinder - "Requirements Documentation vs Project Scope Statement"

    2. I sincerely apologize that I've not been able to keep up with the comments on the blog.

      Assuming that you understand the difference between Requirements, Project Scope and Product Scope from the article above, Requirements Documentation captures all the different type of requirements (business, stakeholder, project etc.), whereas Project Scope Statement captures the Project Scope as well as the Product Scope.

      Requirements Documentation --> Requirements
      Project Scope Statement -> Project Scope + Product Scope

      Hope this simplified explanation answers your question.

      Best regards,


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