Scope Creep and How to Avoid It
By Margarita Shulman, Project Manager, Corporate College
In my role as a project manager, scope creep is one of the most dreaded things I encounter when running a time-sensitive project.
Scope creep refers to changes or growth that take place after a project is already underway. It could be a small change, such as adding a previously undiscussed feature or a client add-on request, but it can have big consequences.
I have learned that any changes to the functions, features and requirements of a project can become scope creep, resulting in overspending, the failure to meet project goals or timelines, and angry customers and team members.
By devoting our time to these unapproved features and request, we take away time and resources needed for those that have been approved and have a specific deadline.
How do we avoid scope creep? In my experience, a project charter is a best practice ̶ and a big step that is often overlooked. This document defines the project and sets expectations for all players and stakeholders, including its definition, purpose, governance, risks, communication, budget, milestones and expected outcomes.
It is a way for all parties to sign off on the scope and expectations of the project, that everyone is has a clear understanding and is on the same page. It’s a great document to have on hand when any change is requested.
Changes are inevitable, but a project charter helps me keep the project on track and can be the foundation to ensure success. By referring to the document, I can ascertain if any project change is out of scope and clearly discuss the impact with my team, clients and stakeholders.
I see this tool as the “North Star” when navigating the inevitable waves that come along, allowing me to keep projects headed in the right direction.