EP1: Scope Creep
What does Scope Creep mean in project management ?
Scope creep is the term used to describe situations when changes or additional features are made to the project scope and are uncontrollable, which affect project budgets and timeline as well as causing project failure. These can occur when the scope is not well defined and the project lacks management practices.
3 Nightmares Caused by Scope Creep
Project burnout is a state of physical and mental exhaustion when workload continuously exceeds capability level for a long time. Scope creep directly increases the problem because changes and additional features are works which have not been agreed upon since the beginning of the project and team members are forced to work overtime to succeed the milestone in the time that was originally scheduled.
Never-ending project is a state of the original scope and objectives are recommit incessantly. This problem normally occurs when scope, objectives, and requirements are not clearly defined, and need to be changed as well as reworked during the project. To achieve all change requests, the delivery date of each milestone must be shifted continually beyond agreed.
Poor Project Outcome
Poor project outcome is an unuseful project result which does not create sufficient value compared to project budget and time. The problem is caused when project team productivity dramatically decreases which make the potential shippables or deliverables don’t meet stakeholder expectations both functionality as well as quality.
3 Ways to Avoid Scope Creep
1. Define SMART Objective
SMART is a framework for designing a good objective and goal. To apply for a project objective, there are simple 5 rules to follow.
- Specific: Indicate the detail level of what problem or opportunity which the project must achieve
- Measurable: Define measurements to evaluate the project progress as well as project outcome
- Attainable: Consult with expertise who is responsible for succeeding the objective to make sure it possible within timeframe
- Relevant: Ensure the objective is achievable with project constraints, and assure that it create value and worth for the organization
- Time-Bound: Prioritize tasks and set realistic deadline for each milestone
2. Setup Change Control
Change control process minimizes the workload caused from Scope Creep and it helps control more effectively and efficiently. There are 3 steps to establish a change control process below.
- Step 1 Setup Change Management Committee: The committee is responsible for the decision of what change should or shouldn’t be implemented. In general, the change control members are the same person as the steering committee but also can adjust depending on type and complexity of project.
- Step 2 Define Change Assessment Criteria: Define assessment criteria to evaluate the change. The criterions should consider severity, impact, budget, and timeline which might be altered according to the change execution.
- Step 3 Develop Change Control Process: Develop control process by defining entire steps from the beginning of change originated to the end that have been implemented. Each step must declare what is the objective and who is the key accountability for seamless actions. Simple change control process consists of 6 stages below but also changeable depending on project scope and resources.
- Create Change Request
- Submit Change Request
- Assess Change Request
- Approve Change Request
- Implement Change Request
- Review Change Result
3. Communicate with Stakeholders for Mutual Understanding
Flawlessness of the implementation depends on how effective and efficient communication is across project team members and stakeholders. Bad communication potentially causes irrationality of expectation and action, and starts to form uncontrollable change requests. To improve communication for mutual understanding, there are 3 vital elements below.
- Set Expectation since Kick-off Meeting: Kick-off session is the best occasion to communicate with all stakeholders. If there are unclear objectives, scope, timeline, and resources, they must be manifest at all in the meeting.
- Control Understanding of Stakeholders: Control stakeholder expectations during the execution by using project charter and kick-off meeting minutes as a tool for synchronizing understanding across team members.
- Often Check Productivity of Working Team: Working members might not know they are facing a burnout situation or would not like to escalate to supervisor because of performance evaluation. To ensure everyone can work together with appropriate workload and capability, checking their status is a must. It can be applied by establishing daily and weekly meetings or by surveying. If there is a decrease in productivity, the team members must be recovered by adjusting some components in the project depending on how bad it is.
Scope creep is the general problem for every implementation. The most important thing is how the project team designs preventive solutions and troubleshooting the issues in order to control unplanned changes and succeed project objectives according to stakeholder expectations.
The above mentioned ways to avoid it are simple and big picture solutions to mitigate the creep. In the implementation world, there are much more details and frameworks which will be published in the next episode.