Dealing with scope creep when managing projects

June 19th, 2017 in Project Management

Dealing with scope creep when managing projects

In simple words, scope creep is uncontrolled and continuous changes to a project’s original scope. It is costly, has an impact not only on the project that it is directly impacting but other projects that are ongoing as well. Scope creep is something almost all project managers have come across at one point or another and it can be tricky to address. Here couple of suggestions that will help when you are dealing with scope creep.

Understand the Project Requirements
First off, before start digging into the project requirements, it is important to understand the business problem that the client is trying to solve. What is their vision behind this Project? What is the problem they want to solve? Understanding the business problem will help you as a project manager understand the project requirement and plan the project. It will help you understand the complexity of the project and will give you insight into what the client is thinking. Too often the complexity of the project is underestimated at the beginning and it is usually because of lack of understanding of the project. Once you have collected all the information and requirements, make a detailed plan and go over it with clients to make sure they are satisfied.

Communicate the impact of scope creep
Whenever a project is affected by scope creep, it is going to have an impact on the original project and potentially on other projects that are being worked on. You might need to invest more resources into the project to accommodate the scope change, that will take away from the resources of other projects. These few questions will aid in understanding the impact of scope creep, how is it going to increase the cost of the project? how is it going to impact the timeline of the project and the project itself? These are the question that you will have to answer for yourself and then communicate it to the client. In most cases when you break down the impact and explain it to them they will have to rethink if it is really worth changing the scope. If they persist, don’t be afraid to tell them how it will increase the cost and change the timeline of the project. In most cases, it comes down being up front with the client.
Customer can be wrong
We’ve always been told that the customer is always right, but I’ll say in the world of project management/B2B services industries customer can be wrong. They are coming to you because of your expertise in the area of service and they expect you to tell them the best approach to a project. They might not know the optimal approach for a certain project that they want to pursue and this is where you can be “critical”, this is not be confused with being negative. Play the role of consultant, when you see a possibility of scope creep lay out the impacts of it as discussed earlier, use your experience from other similar projects to explain it to them why it is a good/bad idea. Collaborate with the client on the issue and don’t get pressurized into making scope change decisions that come from the client.

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