What about scope creep? Many of us have worked projects that involved scope creep. In fact, scope creep tops the list of over 500 managers as the single biggest problem they face
Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, & Sutton, 2008). Most of the time scope creep comes from
well-meaning people who want to incorporate newer technology or find a better
way of doing things. No matter the
source, it must be handled appropriately. Otherwise, the project budget for
time and resources will suffer. That’s
easy to say but much harder to do when the source is the customer. The old saying, “The customer’s always right”
is never truer than when the customer is paying your salary. If the customer wants to change the product,
the product needs to be changed. The
question becomes, How?
I wrote about a project I was involved with in a post from mid-March. That project ended up costing much more in time and money that was originally budgeted, most because of scope creep. There were two sources of scope creep. No surprise, as Dr. Stolovich commented about the commonality of scope creep (Laureate Education (Producer), n.d.). The first was one of the people on the project with direct contact to customers other than the main customer. Through those contacts this person brought back ideas to add to the project because those customers wanted them. They would improve the product but would add to the cost. The extra costs didn’t seem to matter as long as the customers were satisfied. The PM was new and allowed the ideas to be added to the project without following PM protocol.
The other source of source creep in this project was from the main customer. This customer came up with ideas to add to the project that would make it better but would cost more also. Since this was the main customer for the project, it was much more difficult to say no for the PM. Some of the scope creep came from both sources, so there seemed to be collaboration between them. No matter, it wasn’t handled properly and the project suffered.
If I had been the PM, and knowing what I’ve learned and know now, there are a couple of things I would have done to reduce scope creep. I don’t think I could have eliminated it because I’ve heard of similar situations since then. Vince Budrovich mentioned saying “NO” will increase your wins and decrease your losses
Education (Producer), n.d.). This is one of the circumstances that would
not be a good idea in. So another
strategy would be to use the Scope of Work (SOW) document to stop some of the
scope creep (Laureate Education (Producer), PM
Concerns: Scope Creep, n.d.). This one of the things I would have done in
these circumstances. The customer and the team member would have signed the
SOW. Bringing them back to it and
reminding them of it would cause them to see the project and budget that they
agreed to. They would also see how much
time and money their requests would cost above the agreed upon budget.
If that didn’t work, I could have drafted a Change of Scope document and had them sign it. This would change the project to add the items they wanted to add but it would show the extra cost and time those items would add to the project. If they agreed to them then the project would be basically a new project with new deadlines. The Change of Scope document would cause them to really think about how badly they wanted the additional items. Another strategy would be to ask the people wanting to add items to the project if they would allow the project to move forward in its current agreement. When it was complete the items could be reviewed and a new project could be developed to add the improvements to the completed project. This would allow the current project to be finished on time. Either of these strategies would satisfy them and allow the project to complete on time.
Laureate Education (Producer) (Director). (n.d.). Overcoming Scope Creep [Motion Picture].
Laureate Education (Producer) (Director). (n.d.). PM Concerns: Scope Creep [Motion Picture].
Portny, S., Mantel, S., Meredith, J., Shafer, S., & Sutton, M. (2008). Project Management - Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Danvers: John Wiley & Sons.