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.
[i] Bridgefield Group, www.bridgefieldgroup.com/bridgefieldgroup/glos8.htm