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Scope Creep: what is it really and how do you avoid it?

By: Serge Janssen Daalen, 25 June 2023

You might be wondering; Scope Creep is that even a real term? And what could be the meaning of it? Scope Creep is a widely used term in Project Management, and is the almost unnoticeable process in which the scope of a project is slowly but surely expanded more and more, with all the consequences this entails.

How to avoid Scope Creep?
Scope creep is the process in which a project thus gradually gets bigger and bigger. A kind of sneaky or sliding process, that you are often not aware of. There are several reasons why Scope Creep happens, but most importantly; how do you prevent Scope Creep?

For all the Project Managers out there, these 4 points you want to be clear on, before you start:

1. A clear project scope – Define a clear project scope together with the client. In more practical terms, this involves defining and documenting a list of specific project goals, deliverables, tasks, costs and completion date. The project scope provides structure and is the foundation of the project.

2. Clear and realistic goals – With clearly defined objectives, employees understand what the priorities and deadlines are. Also be realistic in terms of tasks, deliverables and completion date. In other words: how much can reasonably be achieved in a given period of time? Evaluate regularly with each other what the status is.

3. Good communication – Another important factor is communication. Formal and informal communication. A client may sometimes want something more than was agreed. Which puts some pressure on the balance between keeping the good ties, and the risk of losing sight of the Project Scope. Therefore, it is very important to always follow the formal route when considering a change. Similarly, make sure you have short communication channels with the key players in your project, both within your own organisation and with the client.

4. A straightforward and clear amendment process – Discuss any scope change within the Project Management Team. Discuss whether the change is necessary, and what impact a change will have on the work, delivery dates and what the additional work will cost. Make sure the Project Management Team is not too big, but includes all key partners. Record the change(s) and the implications in terms of time, work and costs in an amendment document. This will ensure openness and clarity for everyone. Never skip this step, even if it sometimes seems easier. The consequences may be greater than you may think.

Impact Scope Creep
We can conclude from the above that Scope Creep is, as it were, a sneaky process that causes a project to become much larger than was initially agreed between the parties. As a result, costs can turn out to be much higher, deadlines will not be met and the actual objectives and/or end results may even be completely lost.

Prepare yourself thoroughly
Be aware of the process of Scope Creep. It happens unwittingly. Make sure you keep overview and insight of the Project Scope throughout the entire project. Do not get tempted, at the request of a client or your manager, to make changes without consulting the Project Management Team. Stay in touch with the client’s contacts and your co-workers. Evaluate with each other regularly and follow the formal path of the amendment process, by which you proceed with any change in the scope of your projects on the basis of factual and measurable factors.

We at Spire Solutions offer several software and coaching solutions that can support you in preventing Scope Creep. Contact us to find out together what we can do for you.

SpireSolutions – Digital Transformation Made Easy

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