Avoiding Scope Creep in Your Performance Excellence Project

This post covers one of the top risks to any project and one of the top project killers and banes of a project manager, scope creep.

Scope creep is a continuous threat that if not managed properly can derail your project.  Scope creep is defined as: “The tendency of a project to include more tasks or to implement more systems than originally specified, which often leads to higher than planned project costs and an extension of the initial implementation date.”[i]

Scope creep can come from a number of sources.  You need to be on the lookout for all of them.

  • Your sponsor may see a link between your project and an idea that someone else has presented and decide to add that idea to the project.
  • They may tell you that it is a good fit or it dovetails nicely with your project.
  • Management may want to change the deliverables to fit their newest flavor of the month or new business model.
  • An interdependent project may want you to take on some of their projects objectives, often to relieve constraints on their budget or resources.
  • Don’t forget yourself.  You may want to add something as you work through the project.

What do you do when confronted by scope creep?  Perhaps the simplest thing to do is to just say “It’s out of scope.”  Before doing this, be certain that you can get away with it.  It may not sit well with the power brokers.

The best approach is to document what the impact of the scope creep will have on the project.  Using the Project Management Triangle, you can show those who want to add to the scope that it will increase at least one of these if not multiples; cost, timeline, scope (deliverables).  See my post of July 4, 2013 for information on the Project Management Triangle.

In summary, if you hear “Hey – While you’re at it, why don’t you just…” Run for cover! Your project is about to get all messed up.


About Process Improvement for SMBs, SOHOs and Nonprofits

Stuart K. Sammis, CBB, CRM Stuart is a Certified Six Sigma Black Belt and Certified Records Manager and is the principal of Process Improvement for Non-Profits. He has over 30 years of experience in records and information management, project management and total quality management. He focuses on bringing the benefits of these disciplines to Small Mid-Sized Businesses, Small Office/Home Office, and non-profits, specializing in applying performance improvement tools such as Lean Six Sigma to transactional activities. Stuart was a Project Manager in the Knowledge Information Management organization for Corning Incorporated’s Science and Technology Division from 1997 - 2009. He has extensive experience as a Six Sigma Master Black Belt, serving as the belt on a variety of projects dealing with applying Six Sigma and Lean to information management and transactional applications. These projects resulted in approximately $500,000 in cost reduction and several millions of dollars in cost avoidance. Stuart served as Corning’s Manager - Corporate Records for 12 years overseeing the corporate records management program and as the company’s resident historian. Before joining Corning in 1985, he served as the University Archivist and Oral Historian for the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Stuart holds a BA in History from Fairleigh Dickinson University and an MA in History and Certificate in Archives Management from New York University. He has been a Certified Records Manager since 1991. He was one of the first 15 Six Sigma Master Black Belts trained and deployed by Corning. He also is a partner in Centerway ExecuCenter which will be opening shortly in Corning, NY. It will offer shared services and serviced office facilities.
This entry was posted in error, Lean, nonprofit, performance excellence, Processes, Project Management Triangle, quality, Requirements, Risk Assessment, Scope Change, Scope Creep, Six Sigma, Small Mid Sized Business, SMB, SOHO, Tools and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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