Project scope creep is going to get you

Do you know what “project scope creep” is?

Who do you think are the main cause of scope creep in your company?

Scope creep happens after you define the scope and deliverable of a project and make a commitment to deliver it. As your team works on the project, over time you discover your client’s expectations of what you will deliver has increased, , , in some cases quite substantially more than what the original project scope was defined to be.

Here is an example. Your original project to develop a new software feature was going to take 300 hours but 60 days into the project the client thinks you are going to develop functionality that will probably take 500 hours, , , your project has mysteriously grown by 40%.

As a result, your project will not be successful, , , you will either deliver less than expected or you will complete the project much later than expected.

Why did this happen and what caused this huge increase in scope, , , better yet, who caused it?

The phenomena of scope creep comes back to “who caused it”. Most think the client is the culprit.

It’s usually not the case, , , most of the time scope creep is caused by your own IT people. That’s right, , , we are the primary cause of scope creep. It is like “shooting ourselves in the foot”.

Here is what happens. Your people, in this case programmers and business analysts, are very bright and conscientious people. They want to do a good job for your clients.

As they begin working on a software feature enhancement to address a client issue, they think of things that could make the product even better, , , little things, mind you, , , but great ideas that will help the client beyond the initial scope of what we originally agreed to do.

Before you know it, the client is all excited about what he is seeing and hearing about his new software feature. As parts of the code are completed, more discussions take place because the programmer and business analyst identify additional things that can be done to improve the situation, , , all good things.

The problem is that these “good things” add work to the project and will make the project run longer and cost more than originally planned.

In many cases, these discussions take place in the background and the project manager is not even aware he is literally being set up for failure, , , albeit unintentionally and more of people trying to do good things for the client.

Coach your employees and teach them about scope creep. You want them to be creative and to come up with good ideas, , , you just need them to bring these ideas to the project manager first to discuss them, , , not to get the client all excited and have his expectations get out of line with what has been committed to.

If the idea has value, we will take it to the client together to evaluate the situation. If it has enough value to change the scope of the project, we will do it in a way that will manage the client’s expectations as to delivery date, cost, etc.

Teach your employees about scope creep and ensure they understand there are only two people who can add additional scope to a project, , , the project sponsor or the project manager. All good ideas need to go through one of these two people.

Projects have to be managed and one of the elements of project management is to manage scope creep.

One response to “Project scope creep is going to get you

  1. Hi Mike,
    I have published many articles on the scope creep, and don’t mind publishing one more, as yours discusses the topic differently. If you are OK with me republishing the article on PM Hut, then please either email me or contact me through the “Contact Us” form on the PM Hut website.

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