Sunday, April 10, 2011

How Should The Project Manager Deal With Scope Creep?

Every project should have a set of deliverable an assigned budget and an expected closure time.There are agreed upon requirements and tasks to complete prior to the closure of project.These constitute the scope of the project. Any amount of variation in the scope of project can affect the schedule budget and in turn the success of project.How Should The Project Manager Deal With Scope Creep?
Scoping is the separation between what in included in and what is excluded from project. Scope creep occurs when the line is moved, usually outwards. Thus what was excluded is now included making a project in most cases larger.Scope creep is adding features and functionality without addressing the effects on time, costs, and resources or without customer approval.This phenomenon can occur when the scope of the project is not properly defined, documented and controlled.It is generally considered a negative occurrence that is to be avoided.

As my experience numbers of projects that failed due to the scope creep.We were not able to find out any formal statistics to refer to but we noted that majority of those projects failed due some form of scope creep.We should know one thing that a project may fail anytime it is over budget or does not meet the predetermined schedule deadline.

Scope creep can originate from:
  • Poor implementation of change control.

  • Incomplete gathering of requirements before the beginning of project execution.

  • Insufficient involvement of critical stakeholder.

  • Lack of support from the executive sponsor.
Scope creep can be classified as:
  • Technical scope creep.

  • Business scope creep.
The technical scope creep can show up when the project team wants to please the customers ans is not able to reject the customer's request for a change in the requirements during project execution.Gold plating is another reason which can cause technical scope creep. In this case the project team adds additional features and functionality that are not part of original requirements in order to please the customer.

The business scope creep occurs due to external forces that may be beyond the control of project manager.An example might be the continual changes in market trends which makes previously defined requirements .One can avoid scope creep by managing the scope of project effectively. There are a number of ways to control or avoid scope creep.They are as follows.

  • Involve the costumer and the end users early in the project.

  • Introduce a change control board team that would evaluate the risk of implementing the changes.

  • Make sure to involve critical stakeholders throughout the project phases.

  • Avoid gold plating and gain the ability to refuse changes in requirements with proper reasons and support

  • In extreme cases stop the project so that the new additional requirements can be properly scoped and integrated rather than tacked on.

Here we need to make two additional points. They are explained as follows. We need to be careful not to confuse scope creep with progressive elaboration.Progressive elaboration means developing the product in steps and continuing by increments. For example during early strategic planning when information is less defined work packages may be decomposed to the milestone level.As more is known about the upcoming events in the near term they can be decomposed into activities.

Secondly we need to note that the idea of scope creep has evolved in scrum. The product catalog is dynamic and it changes throughout the software product development life cycle as long as the customer feels that those changes add value to the project and accept the responsibilities for them. At the same time every attempt is made to make sure that scope within each scrum sprint is strictly enforced. This evolution of scope creep in scrum does represent some interesting problems which are beyond the scope of this articles.


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