Scope creep can be a project manager’s worst nightmare, resulting in budget overruns, project delays, and even project failure if not controlled. Like a chip pan fire, it can quickly become a horrifying nightmare that can cause serious damage if not dealt with swiftly. Every project manager should be proficient in the ability to anticipate and control project scope changes in order to avoid scope creep.
What is scope creep and how does it affect you?
Start with the question, “What is the scope of this project?” The scope of a project is the documented work plan and deliverables that are associated with it. It contains information about a project’s specifications, schedules, boundaries, and key deliverables, among other things. Every project has a scope, which is defined as the requirements of the project.
The definition of scope creep is when the scope of a project changes, and the project work begins to extend, or “creep,” beyond what was originally agreed upon by the parties involved. Many legal companies work hard to ensure that their letters are clearly outlined to ensure that they do not suffer from having to deal with scope creep, which usually results in un-necessary time being spent dealing with issues that are often irrelevant to their needs.
Change is unavoidable in almost any project; however, it is the uncontrolled changes that cause delays and scope expansion, which can ultimately cause unnecessary stress for individuals undertaking tasks on the project. A project’s scope is controlled by the changes that have been requested and documented as part of the updated scope of the project. Any unauthorised changes to these controlled updates can easily create a problem because they can have a negative impact on productivity, cause deadlines to be missed, and cause budgets to be exceeded. It is possible that the finished project will look significantly different from what was originally envisioned, especially if too much uncontrolled chaos is thrown into the mix.
What is the source of Scope Creep?
It is common for scope creep to occur for a variety of reasons, all of which are fairly common with most projects, including the following:
- A Statement of Work that is vague and undefined in its documentation.
- Conversations and agreements that take place directly between the client and team members that are not documented.
- Addition of uncontrolled changes that have not been approved.
- Communication breakdowns among team members, team leaders/project managers, clients, and other stakeholders.
- The impossibility of meeting time constraints and deadlines.
- There is a lack of a formalised project scope statement.
Keeping Scope Creep under Control
If change is managed effectively and in a controlled manner, it is not always a bad thing within a project. Every project manager should strive to reduce the number of unauthorised changes to a project’s requirements as much as possible. There are a variety of approaches that can be used to deal with scope creep on a project:
- An effective change control process, complete with change request documentation that clearly defines the cause and scope of the change is essential.
- When change requests are approved, make sure to update the project’s scope statement on a regular basis. Maintain awareness and up-to-date information for all project participants who need to know.
- Process, document, and communicate any scope changes, as well as project timelines, in a timely manner.
- Participate in collaborative efforts with project and team leaders as well as with sponsors, clients, stakeholders, and end users.
- Many of today’s project management software packages include tools that can assist project managers in reducing, if not completely eliminating, scope creep.
- Software can keep track of work performance measurements and compare them to the scope of the baseline project, if necessary. The project software can be used to manage and add change requests that have been controlled and approved, as well as to update the scope statement, the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), and the cost baseline, as needed.
- Any scope modifications are communicated to all of the project stakeholders who need to be aware of them through project management software. This ensures that they are documented and communicated to the appropriate parties.