Scope creep happens when a project’s scope is changed or additional requirements are implemented after the start of a project, and you don’t really have any control over it. Although you know that changes are likely to occur at some point during any project, the lack of control that comes with scope creep can be very stressful.
More specifically, scope creep occurs when changes to a project haven’t been authorized, and when the effects of those changes haven’t been addressed. Worse yet, you’re still required to achieve the project’s goals with the same schedule, budget, and resources that you had before the changes were made.
All of this might mean that you’re unable to meet the original authorized aspects of your project on time, and it might cause the project to fail unless you know how to tackle scope creep.
Steps to Take to Combat Scope Creep
Here are a few ways that you can manage scope creep so you can keep your team on track and your clients happy:
- Start every project with a contract and a backup plan: This contract will serve to establish expectations, as well as identify and tackle scope creep when it occurs. In this document, you can outline everything from deadlines to responsibilities so that requirements will be met. Beyond that, it’s also a good idea to have a backup plan that determines the team members who will review changes, approve changes, and discuss their impacts on budget and timeline.
- Write down information regarding changes that are requested: Describe the changes to the project scope, how you’ll address them, and the impacts that they’ll have on your timeline. Also, discuss any costs and risks associated with those changes. Share this information with your team, client, and stakeholders.
- Make necessary updates: Provide updates on whatever aspects of your project, from tasks to deadlines, will be affected by the scope changes that have been requested. Once you do this, you’ll be able to adjust your plan, as needed, to ensure old and new requirements are met. Add these changes to the project requirements document so everyone on your team is on the same page.
- Have a meeting to discuss concerns: Be sure to update your team with the help of your project communication plan, and have a meeting to discuss the changes that need to be implemented, as well as the impacts that they’ll have.
- Just say no: Sometimes, the impact of implementing requested changes would be too negative and too extensive, so saying no might be the best step to take. If you’re going to do this, however, you need to be able to prove that the changes won’t add enough value, and you’ll need to show that you have a better plan to meet required goals.
- Offer alternative options: You might suggest setting up a separate project to meet the new objectives set forth, or you might let your client know about the need for a larger budget to add the changes to your current plan. This allows your client to decide if they really want to proceed with the changes.
Scope Creep: More Common Than You Might Think
When you start a project, go into it with the expectation that scope creep might happen. But also have a strategy in place that will allow you to tackle sudden requests for change without getting frazzled. You can find more detailed information on preventing scope creep in our PM Crash Course eBook (also available in hard copy).