Every project has a scope which clearly defines its specific goals, deliverables, costs, and deadline. This aims to achieve smooth progress and a successful culmination of the project. However, due to poor communication or poor planning, sometimes things get muddled along the way. This is where scope creep comes in. So what is scope creep? Scope creep is a dreaded thing in project management. It refers to the unfortunate event where the project’s requirements tend to increase or evolve as the work progresses.
Often, these are small changes. But when added together, they could lead to results that are different from what was originally planned or agreed upon. Sometimes, this could come in the form of a client requesting extra work that is not in the original proposal or maybe an objective that has suddenly changed.
Scope creep creates frustration and disappointment. It results in delays, roadblocks, and financial loss. More often than not, it is inevitable. The needs of the customer or client do change as time progresses. Delivering a project that matches those needs would sometimes mean altering the scope of the said project. What is important is to prevent those small changes from causing detrimental results.
Even if scope creep is sometimes inevitable in any project, it need not lead to its downfall. What is important is to manage it and prevent it from causing damage.
Here’s how to make it work.
1. Managing Scope Creep
To manage scope creep, it is necessary to control the changes that tend to happen as the project chugs along. The below-mentioned points are a part of this process.
2. Determining the project’s baseline scope
This would give you a clear idea of what is involved. Understand exactly what you and the client agreed upon. This includes objective, milestones, deliverables, budget, and timeframe.
3. Comparing the actual work being done with the baseline scope to find out how much variance there is
Small, reasonable changes on the agreed-upon baseline scope are acceptable. Just make sure you and the client are clear as to how it would affect the budget and timeframe.
4. Determining the cause of the changes
Are the changes caused by a factor that was overlooked but is vital to the client? Or are they a result of poor communication which resulted in a vague understanding of the goals and objectives? Knowing what caused the changes would give you a clearer idea of how to correctly respond to them.
5. Deciding on whether to approve or reject the requested changes
If the changes are reasonable and won’t impact the objectives too much, agreeing to them might not be a bad idea. Or even if they do alter the deliverables, getting the client to agree to a revised scope could result in an increased budget. Longer lead time before delivery would minimize the negative impact of scope creep.
Knowing what scope creep is and how to deal with it could spell the difference between a successful project and one that is doomed to failure. Good planning, clear communication, and obtaining the cooperation of everyone involved are simply the key to success.