Insights

Scope Creep

How To Manage It

Managing Scope Creep

In a previous blog, I wrote about keys to successful project delivery were effectively keeping track of risks, issues, and action items will minimize added scope.

What is Scope Creep?

Scope creep refers to the introduction of added or new requirements which were never part of the initial project conversation. These new requirements creep into a project and increase over the lifecycle. For example, what starts as a deliverable with ten features may increase to twenty over time.

Scope creep is almost always caused by changing requirements as a result of miscommunication and disparity between what a client is expecting versus what is being delivered. Although occasionally it can be initiated by the client. It’s critical for both the organization responsible for delivery and the client to understand business objectives and requirements. Not being clear on the scope and what is expected to be delivered will cause problems down the line with what is delivered. And that will lead to going over budget and time.

Reasons for scope creep:

  • Incomplete requirements or incomplete defined project scope
  • Lack of good communication and transparency
  • Lack of user acceptance testing through a project
  • Too many changes requested by different stakeholders
  • New scope or new direction

Of course, there are times when changes are inevitable as clients will add requirements themselves that change the evolution of a project and in those situations it is understood that delays will happen due to enforced changes.

How to Manage Scope Creep

Scope creep will inevitably happen, the key is to know how to manage it. Change requests will be issued to account for additional budget and time which will have to be approved.

Here are some ways to manage the added effort:

Be transparent: As soon as scope creep appears, communicate this to clients and stakeholders. Let them know the lay of the land.

Agree on a change management process: Agree upon a process up front and put a system in place to manage the cost and delays by stating any additional piece of work that cannot be managed as part of the original or new scope of work or budget will require a change request.

Analyze the impacts: Compare the changes to the original plan (baseline scope) and determine the impacts of the changes and present these to the client.

Prioritize with the team: Prioritize the changes with the rest of the team, incorporate them into the sprints and deprioritize other tasks

Find the best path forward: Sometimes even scope creep can result in a successful path to completion because it uncovers some hard truths or the right way forward.

Conclusion

As consultants at Fishtank, we work with and educate our clients on ways to deliver a great product. We are constantly working with them to realize their vision and meet their business objectives. The more involved both sides are the less chance of scope creep happening.

Occasionally it does happen though, in which case you have to employ methods to manage it. Remember agile is about iterating, adapting, and changing so we have to embrace it as that is what is necessary to developing, testing, and learning. Although added scope can introduce many challenges to a project it can also lead to the best possible product in the time we have.

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