Are you worried about scope creep affecting your projects and causing delays and budget problems? These are some ways to fight scope creep.
It begins quietly and innocently, slowly creeping into your project with an additional feature here, some gold platting there. Soon your project is a week behind schedule and 10% over budget. It seems to be taking on a life of its own.
Scope creep is the nightmare of the project manager. It sneaks up on you when you least expect it.
PMI’s 2018 Pulse of the Profession Report revealed that more than half of all projects were affected by scope creep, or “uncontrolled changes in the project’s scope,” a rise of almost 10% from five years ago.
Scope creep can lead to wasted resources, disappointed customers, or burned out teams. The bigger problem? It’s inevitable due to human nature and the reality that things change constantly. It’s a constant problem in project management, but project managers are often unsure how to address it.
PM Solutions Research conducted a survey of over 300 organizations and found that project managers in small organizations face the greatest challenge in defining project scope (44 %).”).
However, scope creep is not an inevitable problem. You can either accept it or let it slowly ruin all your projects.
Project managers and business leaders who recognize that scope creep is inevitable, but have a plan for dealing with it in advance, can minimize its negative effects.
What is scope creep?
Scope creep refers to allowing a project’s budget and deadline to be extended by adding features or other work not agreed upon by all stakeholders.
Scope creep is a bad idea. Scope creep is an unwarranted deviation of an established plan, and (essentially), the breaching a project contract without going through all the appropriate channels. Let me be your devil’s advocate.
What if you and your coworker are working together on a project and you come up with a new feature that would make it more valuable and increase the value of the product for the customer? This new idea may cost more than we expected and push us over our deadline, but is it really possible to be great if we are only allowed to follow predetermined outcomes?
Ahh, devil’s advocate! You are a wise and fascinating individual.
This is the problem with scope creep. Scope creep can sometimes be beneficial in certain situations, but it can also lead to delays and missed deadlines. As a project manager, it is your responsibility to determine when scope creep can be accepted as a net benefit. If not, you must take the necessary steps to keep the original scope of your project.
How can you manage scope creep
Let’s take a look at some strategies that will help you stay ahead of scope creep.
1. To establish scope, use project management software
It’s easy for things to spiral out of control if you manage projects by the hornets. You may have a plan on a cocktail napkin that looks good, but the next thing you know, your postapocalyptic science-fiction film production is $75m over budget. This is because someone had to have an artificial seawater enclosure.
Project management software allows you to set deadlines and budgets in advance, outline features, and stick with your plan with reminders and dashboards.
A screenshot of MS Project 2016 showing Projects dashboard (Source).
Your team and you will determine the project charter, scope and major deliverables.
Next, enter all the numbers into your project management program.
You can now estimate the cost of any extra feature that is being considered.