As a project manager, you have likely experienced the daunting task of interacting with unfocused customers, unable to see the risks involved in a project. Problems like these are prime catalysts for scope creep.
What is Scope Creep?
Every project is defined by a specific framework, known as the scope of work, which outlines several aspects. These include resources, technologies, duration and cost. While, it is ideal to be able to control the scope, the changing needs and wants of your clients often creep in, affecting the time spent on and the overall budget of your project.
How Scope Creep Happens
It is best to try to prevent scope creep from happening before it takes over your project. Several reasons can be attributed to its cause. Here are three of the most common ones:
- Not understanding the outcome the client wants
- Not having a process in place for changes
- Not clearly defining the project’s scope
All three can be managed effectively by a project manager if they know how to avoid scope creep.
Define the Outcome
Discussions with the client prior to your project beginning should help you identify its outcome and intent. Evaluate your understanding of the project and compare that to the client’s expectations to see if you have been able to capture their vision.
Help your client define the outcome by working proactively with them to understand their needs and recommend suitable solutions.
Define the Scope
Specifically define the scope and discuss it with your client as early in the project as possible. This helps to get things written down in black and white and avoid possibility of any gaps in communication. Make sure this is clear and comprehensive. It’s more important to understand what your client views as the agreement than the agreement itself. Clearly defining and communicating with your client will ensure there are no misunderstandings at the end of the project.
Make a Project Map
Once scope is clearly defined, make a timeline and assign resources to each deliverable within it. This is known as the project map. This helps to keep you on track while the project is in full swing. It also helps to raise alerts when scope creep starts to happen.
Have a Process in Place for Changes
Preparing for changes is the best way to prevent them from turning into scope creep. Have a plan in place for who will deal with certain changes before they arise. It’s also important to factor beforehand in how any changes will affect the cost of the project.
Know When to Say “No”
It is important to learn to say no when certain changes will cause unnecessary delays in your project. However, if there is no other option, turn it into something positive, and be sure to give the changes a value to make it worth your efforts.
Knowing how to prevent scope creep can turn you into a more effective project manager and make the final outcome more successful for you and your client.