Eliminating Scope Creeps: Dos and Don'ts
A project's scope is always specified in advance, laying out the project's limits, timelines, and primary objectives. However, if the management fails to account for these beforehand, a phenomenon occurs, scope creeps. It happens when the project's scope, outputs, or features extend beyond what was initially planned without extra time or budget.
Scope creep can lead to project failure if not mitigated. It can put your project team under needless stress since the project team will operate on more tasks and deliverables than planned. Due to time restrictions and financial constraints, your team is compelled to work through multiple procedures simultaneously.
Unforeseen setbacks in a project's development are inevitable at times, but that doesn't negate the significance of identifying significant drivers of scope creep and putting in place measures to minimize them as much as possible.
Before we break down to you the dos and don'ts during scope creeps. Let us first identify its causes.
1. Not Constructively Raising Concerns
Hiding behind and not being transparent with the client or stakeholder when issues arise during project development can cause scope creep. In addition, since this issue will surprise them, they may modify their deliveries suddenly in response. This might have significant repercussions down the road.
2. Lack of a comprehensive and well-defined scope
Any project's success depends on its clarity. Failing to outline and define your scope clearly can cause significant disruption during project development. In addition, when stakeholders or even team members start defining the project's scope for themselves, this can lead to a lack of coherence amongst your members and clients.
3. Ambiguous Client Agreement
It is not sufficient to send a completed paper describing the deliverables. You must personally include your clients, meeting with them, and adequately guiding them through all of the requirements and objectives. It's crucial to have a clear understanding of the scope of your project with your client. If they don't believe in the specific scope you're proposing, they're likely to change their minds, and therefore the objectives, later on in the project.
4. Not involving the client in the planning process of the project
Projects should involve not only the company but also the clients. Investing months on a project and then just providing the findings to the clients for input at the end of the timeframe is insufficient and might lead to project scope problems. In addition, completed work may have to be redone entirely, affecting the project's timetable and budget.
5. Lack of project estimation
Accurately estimating a timetable might be challenging. Because there are still countless uncertainties, it is impossible to predict all modifications to a project at the beginning precisely. In addition, necessary details may be overlooked, requiring your team to take on additional responsibilities to complete the project.
Now that you have determined some of the causes of scope creep, let's proceed to Dos and Don'ts.
1. Know how to communicate effectively with your team and stakeholders
Organizational development is just as important as time and resource management in project management. On any significant project, there are sure to be various stakeholders with differing perspectives on how your team should function. You'll have to learn to say no from time to time if you want to keep control of the scope of your project. It's never simple to say no to individuals in positions of authority. However, it is the most acceptable method to safeguard a project's quality, which is precisely how you should think about it. Providing quality content and productions to your clients can only be accomplished if you have defined roles, boundaries, and timeframes that everyone understands.
2. Identify the goal of your projects from the start
The first step in preventing scope creep is to define your scope of work. Indeed, the entire group is still accountable for keeping the project on schedule, but that is hard to accomplish without first knowing the project, the deadlines involved, who is liable for what, and what to expect from the outcome.
The scope of work also aids in developing a unified vision that will guide the entire team from start to finish. Each member must grasp how each work fits into the larger picture and how last-minute adjustments can be distracting or detrimental.
3. Establish a change process system
Understandably, some aspects of the original scope of work may alter when projects extend across weeks, months, and even years. In these situations, having a change control mechanism in place for assessing and approving appropriate modifications and updating the SOW and workflow is critical. As a result, a change control process is your procedure for ensuring that each proposed Change is specified correctly, evaluated, and authorized before being added to your checklist.
4. Always expect Change
The scope of a project is never cast in concrete. Regardless of how clear your scope and objectives are, Change occurs even before the writing is set. But what you can do right now is learn to accept the attitude of Change and live in harmony with it. What must establish changes in the development of a project ahead of time, and you most likely already have them.
Controlling requests for Change, managing the process, and ensuring effective governance are all critical tasks whenever there is a need for Change. Ensure that every Change is justified by documentation of necessity and that it adds value to the process. The best way to expect Change is to create scenarios and develop possible moves on how you respond to change.
5. Refine minor changes along the way
When you get feedback on your project deliverables, make sure you know the difference between a minor change to your work and a fresh task. Adjustments are reasonable, but additional duties are frequently outside the scope of the original project. Ideas outside SOW and feature requests are acceptable, but substantial changes require a more extended agreement. This only applies if the feature or improvement is obviously out of scope and not merely a tweak to the present project. If it is a new assignment and outside the scope of work, there should be a new agreement. In this manner, you stay receptive to ideas while still ensuring that your project remains lucrative.
1. Don't work if there's no contract or agreement with your client
A well-defined binding agreement is essential for establishing expectations at the start of a project. In addition, documenting the specifics of your project before you begin work can make it much easier to identify and control scope creep.
Address your client's deliverables, deadlines, milestones, roles, and obligations. Then, work together to develop a systematic method that will enable you to accomplish the project's objectives. When compiling a list of needs, consult with all partners to ensure you don't forget about any client goal.
2. Don't say "Yes" all the time, Say "No" when necessary
Before agreeing to any client's revision, make sure to assess your team's capability. Often, a revision request will arise that obviously does not bring value to the project and may even have a long-term detrimental influence on your business. Give yourself room to decline when circumstances are against you. Present your argument to your client clearly and concisely, and discuss the best course of action.
Moreover, If a client insists on making particular modifications, try putting their demands into a different project that you may start once your present project is finished. In this manner, you'll be able to keep to your present arrangement rather than making adjustments all the time.
3. Avoid setting unrealistic objectives for your team
Even though your project goals are clear, if they aren't something your team can realistically do in the time allotted and within the project's scope, then your project will likely fail or experience scope creep.
Ensure you can meet your goals within the timeline and with the resources available to your team. To guarantee that you can deliver a successful project, compare your project objectives to your scope and timeline. Managing scope creep is almost tricky if your project objectives and scope are not aligned at the start of the project.
4. Avoid getting too many stakeholders
It isn't easy to steer a project when everyone is grabbing for the steering wheel. Your job might get muddy, and your scope can become confused if you don't have a clear project owner—the project manager. Even though the project will involve various stakeholders and collaborators, ensure each team has a project lead who is directly accountable for moving the project ahead.
5. Avoid having last-minute feedback from your clients
For client-facing activities like innovative technologies or marketing initiatives, customer input is critical. However, if you aren't active in gathering feedback, you may receive it too late in the game, causing your project's intent, scope, timetable, or objectives to be entirely altered. This pivot might mean adjusting what you're doing now or beginning from scratch with new specifications and requirements.
You and your customers are both humans. Changes happen at the last minute, and there's only so much you can do about it. Large portions of your project may need to be changed at times, and there may be little you could do to prevent it. As much as possible, be proactive in asking for feedback from your clients.
Say Goodbye to Scope Creep!
Many may argue that scope creep is inevitable, but it doesn't have to be, though. You may meet your project objectives without straying outside your project scope if you have a defined project scope, transparent project plan, and an easy-to-use task management solution. So put the Dos and Don'ts on your checklist. Keep this in mind to avoid scope creep from happening to your project.