It can happen in a flash: The project scope that has carefully outlined the parameters of a project quickly morphs into an uncontrollable mess, dooming effective execution. Many factors can cause scope creep:
- The initial requirements analysis was poorly done
- End users weren’t brought into the project’s planning early enough
- The project was oversimplified
- Change control was lacking and communication among stakeholders was poor
Fortunately, scope creep can be managed. It starts by ensuring that everyone involved in the project are on the same page with the vision and priorities, from budget and deadlines to features and satisfaction.
Next, it’s important to identify deliverables and to ensure they’re broken down as work requirements. The more detailed the deliverables, the better, particularly for the bigger projects that often have an abundance of moving parts. It may also be beneficial to factor in time for software upgrades and documentation.
A project schedule that reflects the work requirements and breaks down the project by milestones should then be developed and approved by project heads. It’s usually recommended to slightly overestimate the duration of the project, because finishing under budget and ahead of schedule can give project teams flexibility to add enhancements.
Once created, resources should be assigned and critical path determined through a Project Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) chart or creating a structure for the work to be done. Even though the path may change over the life of the project, it should be evaluated and followed to help ensure deliverables are completed on schedule.
Scope creep may still occur to some degree, but these steps can help keep it manageable.