Preventing Scoop Creep on Projects

Threat of scope creep looms over almost all software projects. Avoiding scope creep not only help to deliver project on time but also helps to complete within its allocated budget as well. This is why preventing scope is so vitally important to project managers.

Scope creep happens mainly due to the fact that clients want more functionality with the same price and project managers want to keep project on schedule and within its budget. Clients also sometime not clear about requirements and “I will know it when I see it” is very strong belief within such clients.

So how do you prevent scope creep on your project? As a project manager, it is your job to be a gatekeeper and cheerleader for your project, to monitor, manage and report on its report, and to guard your estimate, scope and timeline with courage and diplomacy.

Below are few ways to prevent scope creep in projects.

Define Project Scope

One of the most effective way to prevent scope creep is to create project plan. More clarity of project scope and agreement on requirements help to prevent scope creep.

The first step in making a project scope agreement is to define scope. To do this, you need to understand exactly what your client wants from this project. This means that you’re responsible for understanding their vision, for breaking it into deliverable, and for planning how you’ll meet their goals within time and budget limitations.

It is equally important to mention what is included in project scope and what is not included in project scope. This should help in more clarity on project scope and help to prevent scope creep.

Don’t ever be shy to stop a conversation and say, “Let me refer back to the estimate/scope/plan and get back to you. Not necessarily you need to remember everything in project scope. First version of your plan is your baseline and should be able to answer everything you need from start of project to end of project.

Below image is illustrates why it is very important to understand requirements.

Create Change Request Process

Requirements for most of software projects are bound to change over time. Embracing to change is the norm for agile working teams. The change may arise from lack of information at the start or it can be due to market change.

To help with preventing scope creep from requirement changes, it is very important to have change request process implemented right from the start of project.

“Changes in project are inevitable, Suffering is optional — C. Carey Young”

It is important to define how the changes will be done and who will do them. Only few number of people should be requesting scope changes and even small number of people authorizing those changes.

Impact of changes in terms of cost and time should be clearly mentioned. Everything should be documented.Change control process should be implemented even for small changes.

Project Management plan should clearly mention how the change impact will be evaluated. Below are few question which we should always consider while evaluating the changes.

  1. Does this change request impact the business requirement?
  2. Does this change demand for more funds?
  3. Does this change have any impact on delivery date?
  4. Does this change have any significant business impact?
  5. Does this change impact other stakeholder?

Above are few questions which could help us to evaluate the change and come to conclusion on whether to include this change or defer to later phases.

Avoid Gold Plating

We should be only delivering to customer what he has requested for.

There are several reasons for gold plating:

  • Some team members may think that it is “cool” to have in this project.
  • Some team members may do this just to show case their abilities to project manager.

Gold plating can have many reasons but it come with many dis advantages as well. Some of them are listed below

  • Gold plating takes time. This will obviously raise the cost of project. Client will not be paying for these extra features.
  • This will ultimately raise the expectation of customer and client will be expecting gold plating on each module next time.
  • Gold plating may result in changing underlying infrastructure which was build and agreed as per original requests. Even a small change which is not properly analyzed can have impact of whole project.

Phase Out The Project

One way to control project scope creep is to phase it out. You can breakdown the requirements to sub tasks and phase them out.

You can start with basic version of your product and deliver subsequent phases on specific date timeline that will allow your customer to add in additional requirements if required.

Continuous Project Communication

Continuous communication about project scope to your customers can also help in reducing scope creep. Communicating regularly will make sure that your customer is well of project status and active risks associated with cost and timeline for delivery. In such situation, your customer is reluctant to change anything and will ultimately help you in controlling scope creep.

Above are few key points in controlling project scope creep. Hope you liked this post. Your suggestions will help to make this better one.