Learn How to Deal With a Scope Creep
Alas, 'ideally' means 'almost never happens'. What happens is that the project features change in the process, the deadline shifts, and everything can go sideways, unless you are prepared.
For this reason, this how-to guide aims to outline scope creep's:
- Types and nuances — indeed, there are plenty of ways how the lack of preparation or knowledge can mess up a project;
- Consequences — again, being prepared to any of possible outcomes is extremely important for a project's implementation;
- Reasons for happening — this paragraph is devoted giving an answer to the question: 'Why' God' why this keeps happening to me?';
- Ways of prevention & dealing with it — one of the main rules of project management: if you know how to prevent a problem — prevent it; if it's too late to prevent — know at least several ways of dealing with it.
1. Define what is a scope creep
It means that work can be added to your project that was not agreed before. Requirements can change, both in quantity and quality. Even the project can be pivoted in completely different direction. And all without (or because) you are not protecting the scope and controlling change.
Sometimes a Project Manager may not even realize that scope creep happens till it’s too late already. All of this reminded me the video on the historical scope creep: Thus, the questions arise: how to be aware of scope changes, protect a project from scope creep, foresee changes and take preliminary measures? And what those measures are?
2. Check the types of scope creep
2.1. That’s not exactly what we wanted
2.2 Urgent change
2.3 Gold plating
2.6 Fear of release
2.7 Being Agile
3. Mind the consequences
Consequences: budget and schedule overrun, unhappy team members (they had to re-work multiple times), and deliverable that nobody actually needs anymore.
4. Find out why it is happening
4.1 You didn’t dig deep enough
4.2 Foggy project description
4.3 Identification fail
4.4 Caving Project manager
4.5 You were too soft
4.6 Change the change
5. Develop a scope creep prevention plan
5.1 Ask a lot of questions
5.2 State the complete set of requirements
Also, don't forget to state the scope clearly and straightforwardly and let stakeholders agree to that.
5.3 Risk management
5.4 Manage relations with stakeholders/clients
Secondly, do your stakeholder profiling. At least as a mental note. Who’s shaky, not 100% confident in decisions made, their level of influence on the project, level of involvement.
Last but not least, keep your stakeholders engaged. Show them your plans, partial results, communicate issues.
6. Don't leave stakeholders/clients on their own
7. Learn how to deal with an existing scope creep
7.1 Find the root cause
Sometimes client/stakeholder will try to come up with the solution that they think is better. But as it was said before, they may not be the specialists in the field. Project manager’s role in this situation is to understand what they want to achieve, or maybe what they dislike and offer a better solution. In many cases you will realize that little to no re-work is needed or it can be solved with future deliverables.
7.2 Consider personal reasons
7.3 Deal with additional work
In this case, a Project Manager’s job is to communicate what it’s gonna take to add more work (additional cost, extended schedule, opportunity cost, resources taken from other tasks), what are the consequences (schedule and cost overrun, one change can drag in other changes). And let them make the final decision. Some Project Managers believe they need to “fight” with stakeholders to protect the project and scopes. But just remember that at the end of the day Project Manager is there to execute the project to make sure that client/stakeholder achieved their goals and are happy with the result. Let your stakeholders know what are the procedures for implementing the changes.If they are willing to pay for changes and you made sure they fully understand consequences, let them do it.
8. Summing up
Sure thing, this article is a basis of what scope creep is. In a case you want to dig deeper into the topic, make sure you talked to the experts in the field of project management. There is much more to the topic than it seems at first glance. Also, if you are interested in Project Management, check out this article.