Our textbook describes a project’s scope, or parameters, as a definition of the end result or mission of a project. These end results usually include some sort of objective, milestone, or deliverable. A project statement is critical as it makes all parties aware of the objective of a project. Project statements are often plagued by scope creep. Scope creep is the tendency for the project scope to expand over time due to changing requirements, specifications, and priorities. Avoiding scope creep is a major challenge for most Project Managers. However, many projects fall victim to scope creep. How does this happen? According to Project Smart, the main causes for scope creep are:
- Poor Requirement Analysis – Clients are often unsure of what they want, which can lead to an unnecessary strain on resources
- Lack of Change Control – Project managers should expect some form of scope creep to take place. To deal with this Project Managers can utilize a change control form and keep record of project modifications with a change log.
- Gold Plating – This is known as trying to supersede the scope of the project. People often believe that if they over deliver it will add value. To defeat gold plating, Project Managers should make sure team members are focusing on providing the client with what is requested in the scope and nothing more.
In summation, Project Managers should expect to encounter some sort of scope creep and develop a plan for dealing with it. Additionally, Project Managers should make sure the team is focused on delivering what is stated in the project scope.
As an undergraduate at Northern Illinois University, I obtained the opportunity to work on a team of Junior Consultants for YUM! Brands. The purpose of this project was to provide recommendations on how to improve disclosure to investors and communicate Yum’s global growth story more effectively. During this six-month project, the team was often guilty of scope creep. Being six eager undergrads, we constantly tried to gold plate the project scope. We continuously looked for ways to provide the client with more than what they asked for, this often lead to useless discussions and wasting time and energy on items that did not make the final deliverable. Fortunately for us, our Project Manager would often ask, is this part of the project’s scope? Most of the time the item being discussed was irrelevant and we moved on to more pressing matters. In my personal opinion, I believe it is easy to try to overachieve when you are working on a project that you are very excited about, but this often leads to deliverables that are not focused.
In your previous professional and educational experiences, have you dealt with scope creep, and if so how did you overcome this? How would you deal with a client that is pushing the boundaries of a project statement?