How to Prevent (Avoid) Scope Creep?

What is scope creep? It's such a weird word, right? I thought so too when I heard it for the first time. Well, in a nutshell, scope creep is when you start with five tasks on your to-do list and end up with 25. Let me give you an example of my own. Last week, we made a list of things that my boss wanted me to deliver, and thus the task list was born. Now, as the projects and tasks began, I started getting requests from other departments about things that were not in the original scope but were important to the overall strategy. The sales team wanted better collateral, and the customer service team wanted better templates, and even the boss himself kept adding on things that were not originally discussed. Within one month, my task list was out of control, and I had no idea where to focus. It seemed like there was so much to do, and it was all important immediately. Scope creep is when your stakeholders begin to add things to the project that were not agreed upon originally. You still have the same amount of time to get the job done, but now you have more stuff to do. So what happens if scope creep is not controlled quickly? Mayhem. We're talking about overdue tasks, spiraling budgets, and stuff that may never get done.

So what did I do to fix the problem? I set my priorities and I created a list of must-do tasks by certain dates. I communicated with my team about what they could expect from me by a certain date and put everything else into different phases. I mean, I started this project with a single stakeholder, but then one department pitched in, and then everyone started sending requests via email, and they would actually even drop by at my desk, and this includes sticking post-it notes to my computer. But, you have to set your priorities when it comes to the projects. Remember, the end goal is to let your stakeholders know what the original plan was and get them to stick to it. Also, don't try to accommodate everyone, because your projects may never get done. Here is a few more tips.

Define Scope understandable and clear

The project scope should always be clear and to the point in order to avoid scope creep. This always should be the first approach, because unclear scope is the most common reason of inevitable scope creep. Establishing clear project objectives, ensuring that it was checked by all stakeholders and approving the project scope baseline are useful to do this. Rigorously abiding by the rules stated in the document will guarantee a successful accomplishment of the job.

Use a Change Control Process

In order to make certain that project scope is not gone beyond control, a change control process is always useful. Every time if an adjustment to the project scope occurs (small or not), a change log should be updated and all stakeholders should be informed and consulted if there is a need. Furthermore, an effective change management strategy can provide an effective defense against the undesired outcomes of scope creep.

Manage Communication Well

Establishing and maintaining open communication is of immeasurable value to avoid scope creep. To do this consult with stakeholders as needed to determine how scope changes may impact the project schedule.

Redesign Your Mindset

Sometimes we need to make a self check and reset our mindset to achieve the correct decision. This will help us to avoid scope creep.

See also: Alternatives Analysis

Control Scope

Check Sheets