Join Terri Wagner for an in-depth discussion in this video Resetting unrealistic team expectations, part of Project Management: Preventing Scope Creep.
In the last chapter, we explored solid planning techniques to prevent scope creep. In this chapter, lets examine techniques to get a project back on track, when scope creep has been introduced. A classic issue arises when unrealistic expectations set in. This might be caused by the sales parameters not being consistent with the project sponsor or customer expectations. When sales teams feel pressure to meet certain sales targets or are driven by commissions, they may stretch to close deals that will help meet sales goals or mean higher commissions by overpromising to the customer.
This may make it extremely difficult for the project team to hit the budget and schedule. Given the added work offered by the sales rep to get the sale. If the contract has already been signed, then this project may become an object lesson. Too many sales or projects with zero or negative margin will stop this behavior. So what can you do now? Communicate, communicate, communicate. Use this project as an educational opportunity and talk planning strategies for future projects. While the first time this happens can be painful, opening up the channels of communication will help.
Share with the sales group how you estimate original and additional work. Offer templates or forms the sales reps can send along to the project team during negotiations to add those special features in, while maintaining a profitable pricing strategy to keep all involved happy. Unrealistic expectations can also come from customers wanting free work. Customers striving for a bargain in a tight market may want a lot of freebies from you to close the sale and go with you over the competition. Or after the project is started, customers may try to sneak in additional features or functionality.
Hoping now that the relationship has been established, you'll try to keep them satisfied at any cost. The top coping strategies I would recommend in these situations would be first, act quickly. The longer you let the little ad-ins continue to pile up, the more the sales team or customer may expect of you, and behave as though their changing scope is acceptable. Understand what's realistic. Gaining clarity on what is realistic for a project is easier when an organization uses standard processes and estimating techniques that provide you with confident, reliable numbers.
Clarity is also gained when they consistently use written change requests, that include thorough evaluation and review, before including the added scope. Reset expectations with communication and negotiation. If changes truly need to be incorporated, require completion of the proper change request documentation and if approved make the necessary adjustments to the scope, schedule and budget. Sometimes it's appropriate just to say no and review the signed statement of work while remaining professional.
When you experience a mismatch between a sales rep who promised the client more than what is standard or realistic, take the time to set proper expectations and make certain a statement of work is a clear match to work that can actually be performed within that budget and timeline agreed upon.
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- What is scope creep?
- Why does scope change?
- Factoring in organizational maturity
- Setting scope and requirements
- Building a budget
- Resetting unrealistic expectations
- Resolving communication issues with stakeholders<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.