Avoiding Scope Creep through Change Management

Using Change Management methods can be effective to manage Scope Creep

But first things first...

What is Scope Creep?

Scope Creep is when a project’s requirements increase over a project lifecycle. For example, what once started out as a single deliverable becomes five. Another example is a product that began with three essential features, now must have ten. Or midway through a project, the needs of stakeholders change, prompting a reassessment of the project requirements. 

Scope creep is typically caused by key project stakeholders changing requirements, or sometimes from internal miscommunication and disagreements.

Another way to consider Scope Creep is it can typically happen when items get added to the scope without the right governance to ensure that it’s the right scope to add.
Scope Creep is corrosive and unproductive. It should be avoided at all costs.
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Where does Scope Creep come from?

Scope Creep typically comes from stakeholders with extra ideas. They 'creep' in by being added to the deliverables, plans, or is promised to the stakeholder without truly planning the impact on the resources, cost and schedule.

How to Manage Project Scope

Regardless of what framework you use (agile or traditional), changes are an extra cost and must be dealt with as such.
Changes to scope can be either uncontrolled, resulting in Scope Creep, or controlled, resulting in documented changes to the project requirements.

Implement a Change Control process

Scope Creep is a risk, so controlling these changes in scope by using a change control process is effective and often using this mechanism can get your wayward project back on track.

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Getting started

It is important as a project leader that you keep close eye on the project by monitoring the project status and the baseline scope. You can do this by comparing the actual work performance with the baseline scope using a method called variance analysis.

You can do this simply by asking...
How different is the current project from the original plan?

Review the impact of the change

Asking this question will help you to determine the cause and the degree of the changes found. This is where a change classification system might come in handy. This means you will need to decide on the change request, whether it is corrective or preventive action is needed.

Managing all change requests and recommended actions (whether corrective or preventive actions) via the Perform Integrated Change Control process is recommended.
A Change Control mechanism can help ensure do not allow items of scope creep to sneak into your project.

Dealing with difficult stakeholders with scope creep

Working with stakeholders can be challenging, and it is difficult to say no to all their requests. But if you do not embrace your fierce side, scope creep grabs hold and your project is at risk. Conflict can be hard, but if you provide logical reason and be assertive doing it means managing these situations can be a lot easier.

Other tips for managing scope creep

Make scope management part of your culture

  • Get buy in from your team, ensure it is part of your best practice culture.

Think Scope Management

  • Scope management is all the requirements you need to get the project done and nothing more.
  • Always prioritise work based on value.

Prevent gold plating

  • Team members might tweak to things not in scope, this should also be avoided and can be addressed as part of the team culture discussion.

Collaboration is key

  • Communication helps build trust with stakeholders, and reduces risk when you work collaboratively. Being engaged with stakeholders is key. 
  • As a result, having a better relationship with stakeholders means you will inevitably have better detailed requirements and better project estimates once you involve the right stakeholders.
Until next time, keep it agile!