Scope: Project Scope vs Product Scope for PMP Exam

Scope: Project Scope vs Product Scope for PMP Exam

For every project, one of the key activity is to define the “scope”. There are actually two types of scopes — project scope and product scope. Many Aspirants may mistakenly consider project scope and product scope are identical, in fact, project scope and product scope are two different concepts. This post will expound on the similarities and differences of the two kinds of scopes and what Aspirants would need to know for the exam.

Project Scope vs Product Scope

  • Project Scope: includes all the work required to deliver the required project product, service or results (collectively known as “deliverables”)
    • Project Scope is the about the project (including all the processes described in the PMBOK® Guide) to deliver the product
    • Project Scope involves the requirements of the product as well as the methods/processes involved to deliver the product
    • Project Scope is documented in the Project Scope Statement / Statement of Work — detailing the results of the project as well as the constraints and assumptions
  • Product Scope: includes the features and functions of the required product, service or result from the project
    • Product Scope is about the product itself and no more
    • Product Scope would describe how the product will look like, how it will work and the results it will deliver (technical specifications)

Illustrated Example

The Product Scope is simply “getting a pass in the real PMP® exam” as what we Aspirants want is getting the “Congratulations” screen at the end of the 4-hour exam (of course, the knowledge gained from studying the PMBOK® Guide is also very valuable to everyday project management work — but I would say that’s a “by-product”, the PMP® title is the most important part).

For the Project Scope of the exam, it would involves lots of things (which is why getting  certified is not that simple):

  • Understand the requirements — i.e. getting a pass in the exam
  • Estimate the project budget (including the cost of exam fee, cost of 35 contact hours course, exam Prep books, PMBOK® Guide, exam simulators, etc) , develop the study and exam plan and create the study and exam schedule
  • Carry out the study and continually monitor the progress (including whether to defer the exam if needed)
  • Check your study quality by trying mock exams
  • Write the exam once ready
  • Review the results — retake the exam if necessary


The product is what the project need to deliver and the Product Scope is all about it specifications (i.e. what it looks like, its features and functions and how it works). The Project Scope is developed based on the Product Scope that includes all the work (planning, executing, monitoring & controlling and closing processes) in order to deliver the product with intended results. Many management products (including project plans, registers, lessons learned, change requests, etc.) are created within the project scope in order to allow the creation of the product according to the product scope.

As you would have seen, the PMBOK® Guide is mainly about the Project Scope as it provides guidances on how to carry out the planning, executing, monitoring & controlling and closing processes.

recommended PMP resourcesAdditional FREE PMP® resources: 47+ Commonly Confused Term Pairs with detailed explanations. If you found this article useful, you may wish to reference other Commonly Confused Term articles.

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Edward Chung

Edward Chung aspires to become a full-stack web developer and project manager. In the quest to become a more competent professional, Edward studied for and passed the PMP Certification, ITIL v3 Foundation Certification, PMI-ACP Certification and Zend PHP Certification. Edward shares his certification experience and resources here in the hope of helping others who are pursuing these certification exams to achieve exam success.

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