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How To Manage Scope Creep In Your Project?

by Ashley Zimmerman
what is scope creep

Scope Creep is the increased delay in the delivery of a project when the features, deliverables, or expectations consistently get added to a project without the budget or timeline being adjusted subsequently which would evidently cause the delay in the delivery of the project and demand more money than allotted in the beginning.

It is often seen that if poorly managed; scope creep can transform profitable projects into losses, damage client-vendor relationships, destroy timelines, and can adversely impact the morale and motivation of the associated team members.

Scope creep (also known as the requirement creep, function creep, or kitchen sink syndrome) in project management refers to changes, continuous or uncontrolled growth in a project’s scope, at any point after the project begins. This can occur when the scope of a project is not properly defined, documented, or controlled.

An information system is created through consistent testing after developing it by spending hours while trying to adhere to project deadlines, enhancements and may get eventually get terminated or replaced. Quite often companies adhere to a project methodology when executing a project. These project methodologies set benchmarks on how to approach a project.

The initial milestone in many project methodologies is to define the scope of the project. The scope will often be more refined as a project progresses after several revisions, but it should always limit within the initial parameters outlined.

Software project scope creep
Software project scope creep

It has been found that 43% of all projects are challenged due to scope creep (late, over budget, and/or with fewer than the required features and functions). Scope creep can cost up to four times as much as initial development costs. This can severely impact outsourced projects due to financial implications. As part of the due diligence for software outsourcing, you should manage scope creep.

Scope creep is one of the touchiest aspects when dealing with software development projects, but it can be avoided. Using some of these strategies can help you keep yourself safe from the slippery slope of scope creep:

1. Prompt Documentation

It can be time-consuming to record everything, but it’s mandatory to capture all the requirements in a document and share that document online so that everyone is acknowledged about the same. It is very important to document everything to prevent conflicts or misrepresentation at any point the project within the in-house team. The vendor shouldn’t be left clueless about the project at any point.

2. Be open-eyed

From the initial stages of the project, the project manager should keep a good track of all the additional requests made by the in-house team and top decision makers and tactically filter or reduce the extra work requested to ensure the project gets completed on time.

3. Identify the cornerstone

All that starts well ends well. Before rushing into the project, understand what exactly the management or key decision makers hope to achieve from the project. What’s the most crucial requirement and how long it would take to complete the project

4. Consistent Monitoring

Identify major and minor milestones of the project and ensure it sticks to the timeline. Review milestones and stick on to the scheduled deadlines as these dates serve to keep the project on track.

5. Scope Change Management – Prevent exploitation by Vendor

There are few ways you can deal with this:

A) Change Order form

Implement a ‘Change Order’ form. Not only can you calculate the time and money associated with this plan change with the Change order form but you can also figure out if it will cost you dearly and jeopardize your process flow.

This change order form can then be obtained from the client to let them know how much time and money will be needed to do the extra work and if they can finish the work in the assigned time at the budgeted amount.

B) Start a backlog (or second project)

For requests denied in the current project, make sure the prioritized lists of features are considered in the second phase or next milestone. This ensures that the features required are added and the vendor doesn’t overcharge and make a fuss about the additional work done.

6. Be inquisitive

Lack of technical expertise is what lead often lead to scope creep, so before a change is brought to the table or sent to the vendor, you should be inquisitive and carefully think if it’s critical for the project and if alternatives are there by seeking expert advice.

7. Scope Creep- Need Analysis

Determine whether a change is necessary, or even an addition is required and if the time and money invested is worth it. If you’re convinced that it would be beneficial to you, then only proceed to the vendor requesting a change or add-on.

In a nutshell, the process for avoiding scope creep and ensuring your projects finish on time is as follows:

  1. Understand what your management wants to achieve and stick to that without being too demanding.
  2. Synergize with your vendor to produce a solution.
  3. Define the scope of works that will provide that solution.
  4. Price the solution in a manner that reduces the chances of the vendor to over-charge you because of overrunning.
  5. Document the details of the service delivery, terms & conditions so that the vendor doesn’t get a chance to charge you randomly.

If you know exactly what the project entails and plan it out with a bit of extra time, you should be in the track within your time and budget limitations. However, you’re not managing in a perfect bubble, so you need to expect that there will be some creep. Figure out if it’s feasible, if it isn’t, then avoid the change or addition. There’s always a second iteration or a renegotiation of project contracts to make it all work if you’ve set up a cordial relationship where you can communicate with your vendor.

At the end of the day, Scope creep is not something to get haunted by. It is something to be tactically dealt with. Instead of neglecting the scope creep that slowly creeps in and you end up paying a fortune for the additional changes big or small, managing it could save time and enable you to maintain a good relationship with your vendor without putting a hole in your pocket.

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