Preventing Scope Creep from Ruining Your Projects

Keeping project scope in check is a major job for any project manager. OK’ing additional hours, team members and other resources can make or break a budget as well as impact the final outcome of the project.

Scope creep is a big issue that can slowly push your team’s project scope above what was originally planned. This issue typically starts with a seemingly small change, but can slowly grow into many changes that eat up your team’s precious time and budget.

Below are just a few ways you can keep scope creep under control.

Communicate early and often. It’s cliche, but very true. Communication is key to getting ahead of project issues. Ideally, you should establish expectations with your client from the beginning on your deliverables, timeline, feedback and edit rounds, and other important information. Understanding your expectations, when and how to communicate along with your end goals can do a lot to keep miscellaneous requests and long lists of feedback to a minimum.

Define your stakeholders and points of contact. Knowing who is approving work and their individual goals can inform your deliverables. Knowing who you’re working with ahead of time can also signal if you have too many stakeholders. Multiple stakeholders aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can get chaotic if too many people are giving feedback (or even giving conflicting feedback!) You may even end up with the opposite and have a client who is unresponsive and difficult to get ahold of for feedback.

Define your change process. Your change process is your biggest line of defense against scope creep. Changes, no matter how big or small, should go through the same process. This way, the change is thought out by the proposer and gives you and your team the opportunity to vet the value of this change for the project. Changes are unavoidable at times and may do lots of good for your team and your project. However, uncontrolled changes can bring big headaches.

Manage your project’s scope throughout the project. This means checking in on time clocked by team members, project expenses, progress compared to your timeline and more. Too much time clocked early could mean the project time and cost wasn’t measured correctly or some people on your team need better time management skills.

JW Surety Bonds put together this guide to scope creep to break down everything from the causes to the main culprits of scope creep. Read through their infographic below to learn more.

managing scope creep infographic