Scoping out a project is done with the intention of avoiding scope creep is an unwanted occurrence in all types of projects. There is potential for it to occur and for this reason it should be managed appropriately. In this article, you will learn about what scope creep is in project scope planning, how it occurs and how you and your team can take measures to prevent it.


What is Scope Creep?


Scope creep refers to anything added to the project scope without analysing its effects on time, costs or resources and when done without obtaining client approval. It should be avoided and if allowed to get out of control can prove fatal for a project.

Due to the fact that change is constant in life and in project management, scope creep potential is also ascope creep project management-min constant. It can be challenging to control scope creep in project scope management processes, but there are a number of ways to combat it and a number of points to remember with regards to what causes it.

A key factor in scope creep is that it is unauthorised. If a change or modification to the scope is approved by all parties, it is not seen as scope creep.

If a project team is working on an unapproved feature of the project, project time and effort is devoted to it and taken away from that which was approved. Taking into consideration the initially agreed upon deadline and budget for the project in the scope management plan, the scope creep eats into the planned process, leaving less time and money for what was agreed upon. This is the general nature and scope of project management.

The problem lies in the fact that the approved features might not be completed due to scope creep and the result of the project won’t be that which was agreed between the team, client and any other stakeholders.


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Why does Scope Creep Occur?

There exist various reasons for which scope creep occurs. These issues need to be focused on in the project scope management plan. The following are seen as some of the most prominent:

  • Weak Analysis of Requirements: Scope management for a project begins with identifying the project requirements. Project scope planning requires the definition of the project goals. If clients are not exact about what they are expecting as a result of the project, this produces a vague idea that is more difficult to follow. Time and effort needs to be spent on identifying the expectations and requirements of the project. Otherwise, there will be more unplanned-for changes and occurrences that induce scope creep.


  • Not Involving Users at an Early Stage: Assuming that you understand the expectations and wants of the client for which you and your project team are working can be a major cause of scope creep. It is important to include clients in the requirements analysis of the project scope so that everybody involved with the project can be on the same page in terms of what is expected. Beside, it’s important to make an effective project scope statement at the beginning of the process.


  • Underestimation of Project Complexity: Project scope planning often includes estimating whether a product will be successful or not can be done so by referring to similar projects in the past. However, there are many factors that affect projects and their management. No matter how easy your project may have been in the past, this time round there may be a new aspect that arises and affects the project in a different way. For this reason, it is important to never underestimate the complexity of the project and to put in the time and effort into its planning.


  • Poor Change Management: Most projects performed will face some sort of scope creep. Change is constant and should be approached in a calm and organised manner. The best way to approach change is by having a clearly laid out change management plan that helps you and your team members to be prepared in how to deal with potential changes.


  • Gold Plating: Sometimes people involved with the project believe that doing extra or something on top of the original plan will add value to the project. This is done in an attempt to increase client satisfaction. However, these extra changes can consume a lot of time and eat into the budget further than planned, resulting in client dissatisfaction rather than satisfaction in the project management scope of work.


How Can Scope Creep Be Avoided?


It is important to efficiently and effectively manage the scope of any project. By including sponsors, stakeholders, team members and anyone else affected by the results of the project, a clear vision of what is expected can be agreed upon and worked towards in the scope management of project management.

The work breakdown structure of a project should be as clear as possible. It should break down the work of the project into tasks and activities. The work breakdown structure should always be based on the requirements analysis of the project so that the activities are adding value to the expected outcome.

Documentation is a crucial part of the project scope management process and for helping to avoid scope creep. By documenting in a clear, complete and concise way everybody involved with the project can refer to the project scope document and be sure of what they need to do to reach the desired outcome agreed upon by everyone. Project managers need to work closely with the sponsor our client in the negotiation for a later deadline or in terms of reducing the project scope when there is a fixed date and the project team feels they will not be able to complete the project in time. In this case it is obvious that the communication plays a key role in scope creep avoidance.

For example, scope of work in construction projects clearly defines what is expected from each party involved in a contract, and this makes it an essential document in project management.

The scope management processes need to include an effective change management plan is crucial to help avoid scope creep. This change management plan should be communicated to everyone involved with the project. This will allow people to understand how changes are to be dealt with and what to do if a change occurs.

Overall, scope creep in the scope of business management is something to tackle in a calm and organised manner. If the correct time and effort is invested in scope management, the likelihood of scope creep occurrence will be lessened. Communication, as always, plays a key role in avoiding scope creep as well as correct documentation. Try Sinnaps today and see how the tools of the project management software help you to manage your project scope effectively!




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