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Project Management Week 2 – Defining the Project

Project management definitions

Scope definition and stakeholder expectation analysis

Similar to an organisation, a project also has stakeholders. Stakeholders are defined as ” stakeholders who are impacted by or can impact the project in a positive or negative way.”[1] .

A key aspect of Project Management is the identification and classification of stakeholders. Early work can save problems later because the impact of the project on a stakeholder was overlooked. Such classification can be done using a matrix.

An additional aspect of identifying stakeholders together with their interests in the project is the prevention of scope creep, which is defined as “the uncontrolled expansion to product or project scope without adjustments to time, cost and resources”[2].

Identifying Stakeholders

The video points out three important steps regarding stakeholders.

  1. It defines a stakeholder as anyone, be it an individual or organisation who potentially could have an impact on the project or be impacted by the project.
  2. When identifying stakeholders, the more information you can gather about them, the better you will be able to interact with them. Be aware of their interests, level of influence and interest in the project.
  3. Categorise the stakeholders into groups. The first two groups would obviously those with an impact and those impacted upon. Further classification should tell you the stakeholders who you need to engage with more heavily.

Power Influence Matrix

This matrix has long been used as a means of mapping stakeholders. An online search revealed a few models, but the one below incorporates considerations to be taken into account.

Figure 1: Power/Influence Matrix

Power Influence Matrix model for Stakeholder mapping.
Source: Eduardo (2014)[3]

There is also a Salience Model for Stakeholder Mapping to place stakeholders according to their categorisation.

Salience model for stakeholder mapping

More information about this model can be obtained from the following links.

Defining a Project in Five Steps

The first step in any project is to establish a clear definition of what the project actually is all about. Larson and Gray (2020)[4] list these as follows:

  1. Defining the Project Scope
  2. Establishing Project Priorities
  3. Creating the Work Breakdown Structure
  4. Integrating the WSBS with the organisation
  5. Coding the WBS for the Information System.

Defining the Project Scope

The project scope details the entire project and is based ultimately on what is expected to be achieved from the project in terms of outcomes. Larson and Gray (2020)[4] set out a checklist for defining the scope of a project that is comprehensive and covers all details providing they are properly explored. They suggest:

  • Project objective
  • Product scope description
  • Justification
  • Deliverables
  • Milestones
  • Technical requirements
  • Limits and exclusions
  • Acceptance criteria

Defining the scope is critical to prevent project creep. Projects are costed in terms of time, labour and money. If the project scope is not adequately defined in the first place and agreed upon by all parties, there will be problems with completion. Unforeseen issues can occur as a result of external forces and when this occur, it is essential to address them as soon as possible and adapt the project to suit the changed landscape.

Project Priorities

Project success depends effectively on three factors:

  1. The project is completed on time
  2. The project is completed within budget – the cost
  3. The project is completed to the satisfaction of the recipient party in terms of the scope.

These three factors are intrinsically related to varying degrees. When variances occur, for whatever reason, it may be necessary to change the costs to meet the scope requirements. There may well be a time impact as well. There can be many unforeseen factors such as materials quoted not being available from that supplier any longer. Consequently, it may be necessary to source the materials from a different source and at a higher price to deliver on time.

Figure 2: Trade-offs in Project Management

Figure 2: Trade-offs in Project Management
Source: Larson and Gray (2020) p.111[4]

A method for dealing with project priorities is a Project Priority Matrix. The matrix will demonstrate, depending on the project, how priorities are classified to be Constrained, Enhanced or Accepted.

Figure 3: Project Priority Matrix

Project Priority Matrix
Source: Larson and Gray (2020) p.112[4]

Work Breakdown Structure

The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) could well be regarded as the most critical piece of documentation for a project. Generally, it is developed by using a top down approach where a project is broken into various elements and then broken down further into individual processes for the project.

Figure 4: Hierarchical Breakdown of the WBS

Hierarchical Breakdown of the WBS
Source: Larson and Gray (2020) p.113[4]

The breakdown into the hierarchical model above helps with time calculations, costings and interdependencies with other processes. The process also assists with determining the level of management expertise required to execute the process.

Integration of the WBS

The integration step is determining the responsible people or units for performing the work of the project. Larson and Gray (2020)[4] describe the result of doing this as the Organisation Breakdown Structure (OBS).

Coding the WBS for use in Information Systems

The WBS now needs to be coded so that all the information can be input to the computer systems. In turn, this will produce the reports around scheduling, costs, materials and all other reports relevant to the project.

Responsibility Matrices

Projects vary in size and complexity. Small projects rarely warrant the completion of a WBS or OBS. In such cases, a Responsibility Matrix is adequate to identify who is responsible for what work on a project.

Figure 5: Responsibility Matrix

Responsibility Matrix
Source: Larson and Gray (2020) p.122[4]

If the organisation is larger and work will be completed by units or departments, then the names of the people across the top would be replaced with the department names.

Project Communication Plan

Communication, as in all things, is critical to project management. Communication breakdowns can be a major cause of project failure, or any failure, for that matter.

According to Larson and Gray (2020)[4] , they suggest the communication plan be developed around the following criteria.

  1. What information needs to be collected and when?
  2. Who will receive the information?
  3. What methods will be used to gather and store information?
  4. What are the limits, if any, on who has access to certain kinds of information?
  5. When will the information be communicated?
  6. How will it be communicated?

When it comes to stakeholders, Larson and Gray (2020)[4] outline another matrix on the importance of communication.

Figure 6: Stakeholder Communications

Figure 6: Stakeholder Communications
Source: Larson and Gray (2020) p.125[4]


The contents of this module are critical to the success of a project. Without adequate and detailed definition, the chances of a project failing are quite high.

The most important points covered here include:-

  • The definition by way of documents and supporting document
  • Identification and classification of stakeholders
  • Maintaining excellent standards of communication with all stakeholders for the duration of the project.

  1. Project Management Institute [PMI] 2017, ‘’Chapter 13: Project stakeholder management’, in A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), Project Management Institute, Newtown Square, PA, UNITED STATES, viewed 10 January 2023, <>.[]
  2. Project Management Institute [PMI] 2017, ‘’Chapter 13: Project stakeholder management’, in A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), Project Management Institute, Newtown Square, PA, UNITED STATES, viewed 10 January 2023, <>.[]
  3. Eduardo, C 2014, Stakeholders Analysis: Power/Influence-Interest Matrix, Projectizing, viewed 9 January 2023, <>.[]
  4. Larson, EW & Gray, CF 2020, Project management: The managerial process, 8th edn, McGraw-Hill, New York.[][][][][][][][][][]

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Ric Raftis

Ric Raftis

Find out more about me on my About Me page.

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