Join Terri Wagner for an in-depth discussion in this video Why does scope change on a project?, part of Project Management: Preventing Scope Creep.
One of the keys to making the project boundaries or triple constraints work is to have an agreement with your client sponsor on the scope of work to be performed, the cost, and the duration, or time to complete the work. For example, let's say that you're tasked with managing a project to replace a printer system for another department. You think of this as a small initiative and therefore, you don't document the full scope. Then, as you start the project, your client realizes there's much more to the printer system than was initially discussed.
Classic scope creep. The proper way to complete this task would be to prepare documentation that would identify details such as the number of units, the features and functionality of each unit, the cost, and the installation time frames. If you don't have a formal agreement on these factors, scope, budget, and schedule, the project is out of balance from the beginning. Scope creep often occurs because the customer does not really know what they want until the project is well underway.
I want you to consider these three things as you set up your project. First, you may need to educate the client. Many clients just don't have a sense that when they ask for additional features, it actually takes the project team more time and effort. So, if the client is unclear what they want when you begin, build that into your contract and let them know the change request process, and how the additions will be estimated for time and priced for cost. Also, capture what you know, review it with the client, and see if you're both in agreement.
If you're not in agreement, continue to modify the scope document until you arrive at an agreement about the work to be performed. Finally, estimate the time and money required for the work you've agreed to perform. This will be easier to do once you've broken down the work to be performed into activities required to produce the final product. Scope creep generally occurs due to unrealistic expectations like, I need this by tomorrow. Poorly defined scope, like the client saying they want a software program you're building to be, easy to use, how often have you heard that one? This is way too vague.
Over-exuberant sales commitments, when the sales rep promises more than what is standard, to close the deal without checking with you to see if it can be done. That creates a huge communication disconnect. Another reason scope creep occurs is lack of project management maturity within the organization, where chaos abounds and nothing is done the same way twice. We'll discuss these issues a bit later in the course. So back to the printer example. Let's say your client suddenly realizes that there are printers with more expanded features and functionally that they didn't even know existed before.
And now, suddenly, they want those features included in your project. Of course, upgrading these features will cost more and it will take time to find and install these new machines. If you didn't have a signed agreement upfront, your client may have expectations that you will add these features without adding money to the budget or time to your schedule. Again, classic scope creep. At the end of the upfront planning process you should have created a high-level view of the scope of work that will be completed, the cost of the work, as well as the duration that is needed to complete the work.
The client sponsor should have approved the document that contains these details. These are all signs of a well established process. A healthy sign about the organization's maturity in the area of project management. So now that you're aware of these steps that you should take when setting up your project, does that match what you've attempted in the past? If not, don't worry. Being a good project manager is a learning process that takes time and practice to perfect. I want you to begin thinking about how you can incorporate a signed statement of work, or project charter on every initiative, even ones you think are small.
In fact, it's actually the small projects that often cause the most pain.
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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.