When a client requests additions or changes to a project, trying to please them is a natural reaction. However, that additional work can quickly add up, leading to scope creep and the end of your project.
This blog explains what causes scope creep and how to avoid it from putting your projects in jeopardy.
What Is the Scope of a Project?
The project scope, in simple terms, refers to all the tasks required to finish a project. A work breakdown structure (WBS) can assist you in identifying all your project’s tasks, activities, and deliverables. After that, you will need to have a scope statement, which is a project planning report in which you define the project’s scope.
What Is Scope Creep in Project Management?
Scope creep occurs when changes to the project scope are made without using a control procedure such as change requests. These changes impact the project’s schedule, budget, costs, and resource allocation, and they may jeopardise the achievement of milestones and objectives. One of the most common project management risks is scope creep.
Scope creep occurs when project clients or other stakeholders add new project requirements after the project has begun to be executed. Frequently, these changes are not thoroughly scrutinised. As a result, the project team must complete more tasks, deliverables, and milestones with the same resources and timeframe as the original scope.
On the other hand, you might end up with a project with a lot of approved, considered changes that never end because – just when you think you have finished – a new project requirement, such as a new product feature, appears in your inbox, requiring you to make more changes.
You will need scope, change, and risk management plans to keep your project scope under control and avoid scope creep.
- Scope Management Plan
The scope management plan is a section of your project plan that explains how your project’s scope will be defined and managed. This document contains your work breakdown structure, scope statement, and how stakeholders will approve the scope as a project baseline.
The scope management plan assists project managers in ensuring that all stakeholders are aware of the project scope baseline and how changes will impact the overall project plan.
- Change Management Plan
Change occurs naturally in projects, but it is critical to have a change management plan to control these changes. Rarely do projects progress strictly as was defined in the project plan. Project managers will need to update the schedule, budget, and scope most of the time. On the other hand, a project manager has little chance of staying on top of work and delivering the project effectively unless they have some control over the change management process.
- Risk Management Plan
You will need to refer to your risk management plan if scope creep occurs because stakeholders, clients, or team members fail to follow scope and change management procedures. The risk management plan for your project is a document that lays out the risk management strategies, roles, responsibilities, and budget. In simple terms, it is a strategy that includes all the information you will need to avoid and minimise risks like scope creep.
How to manage scope creep in projects?
Sudden project changes are not always bad; they just need to be managed carefully. If you do not, you will end up with scope creep, and the project will halt. As a result, managers must take the appropriate steps to manage scope creep before the project fails.
Here are some ideas for how to do it:
- Establish a scope management strategy from the start.
The scope management plan is recorded in this step to provide project guidance. The plan lays out the tracking, approval levels, and how a project will be conducted and provides flexibility for changes. The Scope Management Plan should ideally be created using the Project Charter and Project Management Plan as a guide. This plan provides managers with guidance to adapt to the changes while remaining within the constraints.
2. If the project’s requirements are unclear, address scope creep.
To avoid scope creep, the most vital point is to address project scope deviations early on. It will assist managers in communicating to stakeholders and clients the effects of increasing demands on project constraints. Managers can then request a buffer period or inform them of any additional resource or project cost requirements.
3. If necessary, re-evaluate the resource and project plan.
Project managers are frequently seen juggling multiple client project requirements. As a result, they may miss changes in project scope on occasion. As a result, they must re-evaluate their original project and resource plan on a timely basis to ensure no discrepancies or inconsistencies. They can also compare the project and resource schedule to the baseline scope to ensure they have not missed anything important. They can then update the tasks, activities, and milestones as needed.
4. Raise a red flag with clients and stakeholders as soon as possible.
Scope creep can be effectively managed if all stakeholders and decision-makers are on the same page from the start of the project. Project managers must regularly communicate with clients, investors, or sponsors and provide real-time project status updates. Managers, for example, can raise red flags if they notice a discrepancy between forecasted and actual costs. They can also use variance analysis to compare actual work performance measurements to the baseline scope. It will enable them to recognise how the current project differs from the original plan and take corrective action ahead of schedule.
5. Create a communication strategy for communicating scope creep.
Successful project management necessitates both internal and external communication. Project managers should develop a communication plan to collaborate more closely with stakeholders and team members for effective project scope management.
Project managers can communicate scope creep, exchange feedback, and strategise to get projects back on track by providing consistent internal communication with team members. The same can be said for stakeholder communication. It will assist project managers in negotiating changes, persuading stakeholders to reduce scope creep, extending deadlines, justifying missed milestones, and providing feedback.
6. Actively discuss issues of scope creep with CCB.
The project scope record created at the start of the project is only a starting point. What happens if a client wants a change while the project is still in progress?
You will need to have a change management plan, which lays out the steps that should be followed when stakeholders request a change. As a result, the change control board is responsible for reviewing client suggestions. These impromptu changes are first assessed for their impact on project delivery, and if agreed, they are added to the project plan. To better implement scope changes and get projects back on track, project managers should discuss scope creep issues with the change control board as soon as possible.
7. Use tools to keep track of project scope changes.
Without advanced software and tools, project management will not be as efficient as possible. Numerous project resource management tools can be successfully added to your current agile project management system to improve your team’s performance. It will also provide you with real-time project status reports and the ability to determine the cause, extent, and timing of changes discovered, allowing you to manage scope creep in projects ahead of schedule.
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