How to Make a Project Scope Checklist for Beginners

project scope checklist

A project scope checklist can be the difference between resounding success and costly failure for your next project. Remember that old old saying, “Failing to plan means planning to fail”? It’s more true than ever in today’s fast-paced, project-heavy, business ecosystem.

Luckily, here at WillDom, we thrive on project planning and we eat project scope checklists for breakfast. Read on to learn how to create your own slick and savvy list, the why of it all, and some common obstacles you may encounter.

What is a Project Scope Checklist?

It’s a single document that clearly explains details about a project:

  • Reason for and ideas about the project.
  • Requirements, resources, boundaries, and standards.
  • Timelines, communication structures, and roles.

7 Steps to Make Your Project Scope Checklist

Your project, team, and business are unique but there are 7 steps that apply to any project.

1. Outline Your Project

Ask yourself and your team:

  • What challenges does this project address?
  • Who is affected by this project?
  • What are the deliverables?
  • Are they quantifiable or measurable?

Have a “big picture” idea of your project and what it will do. Details will change but the overall goal should remain the same. If you realize the project doesn’t have a clear or worthwhile goal during this step, repeat and refine or abandon and move to your next idea.

2. Team & Stakeholder Meetings

Use your outline from the previous step and get your team and stakeholders in a meeting. Discuss the project and ask about the team/stakeholder’s goals, must-haves, worries, and expectations. Take detailed notes, record the session, and dig deep so you can start the project from a place of clarity. 

Sometimes your team’s ideas and stakeholders’ goals can be at odds. Resolve this before moving forward. If you can’t align these two groups, the project may be better off reworked, abandoned, or shelved for later.

3. Assignments, Accountability & WBSs

Once you’ve got a plan and agreed-upon goals, it’s time to decide who will do what. If you’ve got specialists in-house and they have the bandwidth, you can create an internal team for the project. If you need to outsource some aspects, look into that at this stage. 

You need to have the right people doing the right tasks or deadlines will slip by unnoticed. Draw up a work breakdown structure (WBS) to show which team delivers what to who. And, maybe most important, who is in charge of deadline tracking?

4. Allocate Resources

Now that you know who is performing tasks, ask them what they need. Think in terms of all resources from time to materials to expertise to software. Budgets come into play during this step.

5. Timeline

So you know who is delivering and what resources they’re using. But how long will it take them? And does that match your expectations or requirements? If not, go back to steps 3 and 4 again. You may need to hire more programmers. 

6. Communication Plan

Your overall project scope checklist should be accessible to everyone on the team. Communication channels and expectations need to be clearly explained. Go to your WBS and make sure that each smaller team reports to the others in some way. You need important information flowing freely and easily so you can react to unexpected hiccups.

7. Plan for Changes in Project Scope Checklist

Speaking of hiccups, they come in two forms: serendipitous over-achievement and the dreaded scope creep. Occasionally, a part of the project will get finished ahead of schedule, under budget, or beyond expectations. More likely, you’ll run into a single part of the project suddenly branching into 5 sub-projects. 

Create a protocol that triggers as soon as any scope change occurs. Make a procedure to request the change, explain the reason, and propose how to stay within the milestone timeline. Accepting or declining this request can be tricky and should be reviewed carefully. Sometimes scope creep is necessary for project excellence, so be ready to be flexible. But often, scope creep means missed deadlines and problems down the line when an “improved” step A doesn’t fit into step B anymore.

Project Scope Checklist Example

Use this general project scope checklist example to create your own with specifics.

-What do we want to gain?

-What does the end result look like?

-Who has an interest in this project’s success?

Team members
-Involved in creation.
-Affected by the finished project.

-Time, money, materials.
-Outsourcing or in-house.


Criteria for Acceptable Delivery
-Who is assessing.

Project Assumptions
-What do we think will happen?
-What are the potential risks?

Change Protocol
-When, who, and how.

Why You Need a Project Scope Checklist

Any project can derail for any number of reasons. Having a project scope checklist forces you to take a hard look at what you’re working with and what you want to make. 

Without doing the work in this pre-planning stage, you can spend a lot of time and money only to find out: 

1) The project didn’t really address the problem you thought it would.

2) You need to spend more time or money to get it done right.

3) The end-result isn’t worth the effort and investment.

A secondary reason for having this checklist is to solidify expectations for everyone involved. You don’t want to finally finish a project and hear “Oh, I didn’t think it was going to do that” from your investors. Have it in writing before you spend your resources so you can adjust before you sign any checks.

Follow these 7 steps to create a plan for success for your next project! And if a project scope checklist still feels overwhelming, hop over to or on our LinkedIn and we’ll get it set up for you.

Share This Post

Share on linkedin
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email

Are you interested in learning more about our services?

Fill out the form and we’ll be in touch with you shortly.

More To Explore