It involves turning long-term organizational goals into tangible program scope statements, which help in forming a program scope description. The program scope description provides guiding parameters for the program, emphasizing what will be included in the program and what won’t be. It primarily sets boundaries for program project managers, thereby enabling them to operate within the agreed-upon parameters.

Table of Contents

The definitive process involves several stages:

  1. Understanding Strategic Objectives: To translate strategic objectives into high-level program scope statements effectively, program managers need to fully understand the business strategy and its driving factors. They need to familiarize themselves with the organization’s vision, mission, and strategic goals. This could involve researching and going through the company’s strategic documents, or speaking directly to the key persons responsible for strategy formulation.
  2. Articulating Objectives into Scope Statements: Strategizing involves creating a bridge between long-term strategic objectives and related high-level program scope statements. Here, program managers take apart complex, overarching goals into more specific, actionable statements that relate directly to the program’s objectives.
  3. Negotiating with Stakeholders: Key stakeholders, including sponsors, play important roles in shaping a program’s scope. They provide unique perspectives as they have specific expectations and interests in the program. Their input can be invaluable, making negotiation an essential part of the program scope definition process. The communication should allow for open discussions, a mutual understanding of the scope, and compromises, if necessary.
  4. Creating Program Scope Description: Once stakeholders have given their inputs, program managers then finalize a program scope statement which is comprehensive and aligns with the organization’s strategic objectives. This document should be clear, and it should include the objectives, deliverables, constraints, and assumptions of the program.

One simple example:

Consider a strategic objective of a Retail company: “To become a global leader in the e-commerce sector within five years”. The program manager analyzes this objective and begins to initiate a wide program that incorporates various projects. They might translate this into high-level scope statement as: “Develop and implement a robust and user-friendly online shopping platform for retail, establish efficient delivery mechanisms to support online sales, and establish brand promotion campaigns that target online audiences.”

Negotiations with stakeholders might bring forward prioritization of the platform development, additional objectives like integration of a secure digital payment system, or changes in timelines due to budget constraints. This all will be accounted in the final program scope description.

Essential components of the final program scope description might include:

Program Objectives:

  • Develop and implement an online shopping platform in Year 1.
  • Establish delivery mechanisms to support online sales in Year 2.
  • Launch an international brand promotion campaign in Year 3–5.


  • A user-friendly website and mobile app.
  • A secure and fast delivery network.
  • Increased brand awareness and customer base.


  • Budget limitations.
  • Technology requirements and gaps.


  • Positive growth of the e-commerce industry.
  • Market acceptance and shift towards online shopping.

This process of translating strategic objectives into scope statements by negotiating with stakeholders ensures all projects under your program align with strategic objectives, stakeholders understand and agree upon what will be delivered, and you can manage and control your program effectively. This process is thus critical for those aspiring to be successful Program Management Professionals, aligned with the PgMP exam’s curriculum.

Practice Test

True/False: The program scope statement is a document that describes the boundaries and deliverables of the program.

  • True
  • False

Answer: True.

Explanation: The program scope statement describes what the program will deliver and what it will not; it defines the boundaries of the program.

True/False: The strategic objectives of an organization have no role in shaping the program scope statement.

  • True
  • False

Answer: False.

Explanation: An organization’s strategic objectives are central to the development of the program scope statement, providing direction and focus.

Which of the following individuals might be a stakeholder in the creation of a program scope statement?

  • A. The CEO
  • B. The project manager
  • C. A couple of key end-users of the system being developed
  • D. All of the above

Answer: D. All of the above.

Explanation: A stakeholder can be anyone who has an interest in the program, this could include executives, project managers, and end-users.

Multiple Select: Which of the following can be included in a high-level program scope statement?

  • A. List of dependencies
  • B. Definition of objectives and goals
  • C. Detailed financial projections for the program
  • D. Timeframes

Answer: A. List of dependencies, B. Definition of objectives and goals, D. Timeframes.

Explanation: The scope statement typically includes dependencies, objectives, goals, and timeframes but not detailed financial projections.

True/False: The main purpose of negotiating with stakeholders while creating a program scope statement is to understand their requirements and make sure they align with the strategic objectives of the program.

  • True
  • False

Answer: True.

Explanation: Understanding stakeholder requirements and interests is crucial in shaping a program that aligns with strategic objectives.

True/False: A well-defined program scope statement doesn’t necessarily result in a smoother execution of the project.

  • True
  • False

Answer: False.

Explanation: A well-defined scope statement provides a clear path for the project, aiding in smoother execution.

Multiple Select: The steps to translate strategic objectives into high-level program scope statements include:

  • A. Understanding the strategic objectives
  • B. Identifying stakeholders
  • C. Creating the high-level program scope statement
  • D. Implementing the scope statement without getting any feedback

Answer: A. Understanding the strategic objectives, B. Identifying stakeholders, C. Creating the high-level program scope statement.

Explanation: Collecting feedback from stakeholders about the scope statement is an important step, making option D incorrect.

True/False: Creating a program scope description doesn’t require any sort of negotiation with stakeholders.

  • True
  • False

Answer: False.

Explanation: Negotiating with stakeholders is a critical step in creating a program scope description. This ensures that the scope aligns with all relevant parties’ expectations and requirements.

Multiple Select: The elements of an effective high-level program scope description include:

  • A. Clear objectives
  • B. Unambiguous deliverables
  • C. Vague timeframes
  • D. Overall costs

Answer: A. Clear objectives, B. Unambiguous deliverables, D. Overall costs.

Explanation: An effective scope description must have clear objectives, unambiguous deliverables, and overall costs, but not vague timeframes.

A stakeholder’s main role in the program scope description creation process is to:

  • A. Dictate the content of the scope
  • B. Provide funding
  • C. Provide feedback and validation
  • D. None of the above

Answer: C. Provide feedback and validation.

Explanation: While stakeholders have various roles, their main role in the scope description process is to give feedback and validate that their needs and requirements are met.

Interview Questions

What does translating strategic objectives into high-level program scope statements entail?

This process involves interpreting the direction provided by the organizational strategy into clear, actionable project objectives. This will often involve negotiating with key stakeholders, including sponsors, in order to develop a scope description that aligns with both the project’s goals and the overall strategic objectives of the organization.

Who are the key stakeholders in creating a program scope description and why is their input important?

Key stakeholders may include project managers, team members, project sponsors, clients, and other interested parties. Their input is critical because they have a vested interest in the project’s outcome, and their perspectives can help shape the project’s scope to ensure it delivers its intended benefits.

Why is negotiation necessary when defining the scope of a program?

Negotiation is required to reconcile differing interests and expectations among stakeholders. This process is crucial for reaching an agreed-upon definition of the program’s scope, which is necessary for planning and executing the program effectively.

What are the potential risks associated with failing to accurately translate strategic objectives into a program scope?

Failure to accurately translate strategic objectives can lead to a misaligned program, where the work performed does not drive the intended strategic results. This could result in wasted resources, delays in delivering benefits, and a negative impact on stakeholders’ satisfaction.

What are some of the techniques for negotiating with stakeholders to determine program scope?

Techniques include active listening, effective communication, conflict resolution, persuasion and influence, and collaborative problem solving.

How can a Program Manager ensure that the scope statements align with the strategic objectives?

The Program Manager can regularly review and revisit the scope statements in conjunction with the strategic goals during the project life cycle. Keeping open lines of communication with stakeholders can also ensure the alignment and agreement is maintained.

What should be included in a program scope description?

A program scope description should clearly outline the program’s deliverables, boundaries, responsibilities, constraints, assumptions, risks, and dependencies. It also includes the strategic objectives the program aims to achieve.

How can conflicts over the program scope be resolved effectively?

Conflicts can be resolved by creating a clear communication plan, fostering open and honest dialogue among stakeholders, leveraging negotiation and conflict resolution techniques, and maintaining a focus on the strategic objectives.

What role does the program sponsor play in scope definition?

The program sponsor typically provides the financial resources, approves major changes, and uses their influence to support the program. During scope definition, they can provide strategic direction, validate the alignment of the program to strategic goals, and provide approval.

What is the impact of not involving stakeholders in defining the program scope?

Not involving stakeholders could result in a scope that does not fully meet their needs or expectations, leading to dissatisfaction. It could also result in miss-out on valuable insights and perspectives that could enhance the program’s effectiveness and alignment with strategic objectives.

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