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Major differences between project scope and objectives

Definition

Scope: The totality of outputs, outcomes and benefits and the work required to produce them. 

Objectives: Predetermined results towards which effort is directed. Objectives may be defined in terms of outputs, outcomes and/or benefits. 

Definition from APM Body of Knowledge 7th edition

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General 

Scope comprises the totality of the outputs, outcomes and benefits and the work required to produce them. It is the scope of work that is the deciding factor as to whether it will be managed as a project, programme or portfolio.

The way in which scope is managed depends upon two things; the nature of the objectives (outputs, benefits or strategic) and the definability of the objectives.

The scope of a project will typically include outputs, but may be extended to cover benefits. 

Objectives may be expressed in terms of outputs (such as a new HQ building), outcomes (such as staff being relocated from multiple locations to the new HQ), benefits (such as reduced travel and facilities management costs) or strategic objectives (such as doubling the organisation’s share price in three years).

Where the objective is well understood and has a tangible output (e.g. in construction and engineering) it is usual to define the scope as accurately as possible at the beginning of the life cycle.

Where the objective is less tangible, or subject to significant change e.g. business change or some IT systems, a more flexible approach to scope is needed. This requires a careful approach to avoid escalating costs.

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APM Body of Knowledge 7th edition

The APM Body of Knowledge 7th edition is a foundational resource providing the concepts, functions and activities that make up professional project management. It reflects the developing profession, recognising project-based working at all levels, and across all sectors for influencers, decision makers, project professionals and their teams. 

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