How to Avoid Scope Creep in 7 Steps

What is Scope Creep?

Scope Creep is the expansion of a project outside of the planned objectives.

What causes Scope Creep?

Scope Creep can originate from several sources and is a leading cause of project failure when handled poorly.

Why is Scope Creep so harmful to projects?

Missed deadlines, budget shortage, and ultimately, project failure!

How to avoid Scope Creep?

Use the following 7 steps to control the scope of your project:

  1. Thoroughly understand the project vision.
    Meet with the project drivers and deliver an overview of the project as a whole for their review and comments.
  2. Understand your priorities and the priorities of the project drivers.
    Make an ordered list for your review throughout the project duration. Items should include budget, deadline, feature delivery, customer satisfaction, and employee satisfaction. You’ll use this list to justify your scheduling decisions once the project has commenced.
  3. Define your deliverables and have them approved by the project drivers.
    Deliverables should be general descriptions of functionality to be completed during the project.
  4. Break the approved deliverables into actual work requirements.
    The requirements should be as detailed as necessary and can be completed using a simple spreadsheet. The larger your project, the more detail you should include. If your project spans more than a month or two, don’t forget to include time for software upgrades during development and always include time for ample documentation.
  5. Break the project down into major and minor milestones.
    Minor milestones should not span more than a month. Whatever your method for determining task duration, leave room for error. When working with an unknown staff, I generally schedule 140 to 160 percent of the duration as expected to be delivered. If your schedule is tight, reevaluate your deliverables. Coming in under budget and ahead of schedule leaves room for additional enhancements.  Complete a generous project schedule to be approved by the project drivers.
  6. Assign resources and determine your critical path using a PERT Chart or Work Breakdown Structure.
    Microsoft Project will create this for you. Your critical path will change over the course of your project, so it’s important to evaluate it before development begins. Follow this map to determine which deliverables must be completed on time. In very large projects, I try not to define my phase specifics too early, but even a general plan will give you the backbone you need for successful delivery.
  7. If Scope Creep is unavoidable, implement a Change Order Process.
    A Change Order form will allow you to perform a cost-benefit analysis before scheduling changes requested by the project drivers.  Implement Change Order forms early and educate the project drivers on your processes.
Published in: on February 8, 2012 at 9:04 am  Leave a Comment  

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