How do you avoid projects that are beset by uncontrolled changes or continuous growth in their scopes-of-work? Answer: maintain scope control in five ways.
Every project, regardless of the medium or client, has the potential to be afflicted by ‘scope creep.’ But being aware of it before a project starts and having processes in place to manage it can be the difference between a project finishing on time and being profitable for your firm or dragging on forever and blowing the budget to smithereens.
Scope Creep Defined
First, what exactly is ‘scope creep’ and how does it start? Like any ailment, it can start small but quickly grow out of control if not addressed. Simple change requests from clients may seem harmless at the beginning but they have the potential to act as an opening to larger, more costly revisions as the project progresses. Scope creep happens when a project’s scope-of-work is not properly defined, documented or controlled. When scope creep does happen, it is generally considered harmful. Not only does it adversely affect the project schedule and budget, it also affects the quality and success of the deliverables.
Scope creep can be the result of the following situations:
- poor change control
- lack of proper initial identification of what is required to bring about the project objectives
- poor communication between parties
- weak project management
These situations can be remedied through five ways.
1. WRITE IT DOWN – Document the Requirements
When a scope-of work is in writing it makes it much easier to adhere to and gives everyone involved a point of reference as the project progresses.
2. Create a Clear Project Schedule
Like a written scope-of-work, a corresponding schedule clearly delineates deadlines for each step in the project – concepts, client edits, revisions, delivery of final files – it has the affect of discouraging date changes.
3. Set up Change Control Processes
If changes to the scope are requested, there should be a clear process by which they are documented and approved both internally and externally.
4. Have the Client Approve the Project Scope
Before the project can start, the client must give approval, in writing, of the project scope. This way if there is a change to it, and the change is important enough, the client can approve it, along with the appropriate budget and schedule changes.
5. Talk to the Project Team
Make sure everyone involved in the project has reviewed the project scope and approved it. Getting their input in the beginning allows each team member to understand what is expected, when it is due, and for how much eliminating the possibility of unauthorized scope changes.
By implementing these five steps, you can gain control over scope creep and realize more profitable projects and satisfied clients.
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