What is the Optimal Way for Management to Handle Scope Creep?

Projects are often lengthy and complex undertakings under the best of circumstances. Typically, they involve significant financial, time, and energy commitments, so they need to be well planned before any work begins.

While nearly every project ends up with a few adjustments before it reaches completion, frequent additions to the requirements can quickly get out of hand, leading to scope creep. Not only can scope creep strain budgets and timelines, but it can also impact the quality of the end product, resulting in an outcome that isn’t what’s needed or setting an inherently unattainable goal.

Often, management has to step up to make sure that scope creep doesn’t harm a project. Here’s a look at the optimal approach managers can take when scope creep becomes an issue.

Start with the Right Requirements

One of the easiest ways to avoid scope creep is to have a well-defined project from day one. Make sure to involve a wide variety of stakeholders early in the process – including customers and end-users – and work with them to get a thorough picture of their actual needs. Then, take their input and determine what is and isn’t plausible as well as refine their thoughts into actionable objectives.

Additionally, speak with stakeholders about their priorities. Learn about the customer’s or end user’s goals, discover what challenges they are trying to overcome, and otherwise drill down to determine what is required for the project to be deemed a success.

By being thorough from the beginning and identifying key priorities, you can ensure that the project starts in the right place. That way, it is less likely that additions or changes will be needed, reducing the chance of scope creep.

Avoid Gold Plating

At times, team members want to provide more than the scope requests. For example, with software development, this could include features that weren’t part of the initial plan.

Often, the motivation behind gold plating is positive, as the person is trying to deliver a result that exceeds expectations. However, it can also derail a project, adding in factors that weren’t anticipated, increasing cost, and leading to more risk.

Implement Change Control Procedures

Having formal processes for reviewing change requests is essential. This ensures that any proposed addition or course shift is thoroughly vetted, allowing for a greater understanding of the overall risk of moving forward or not implementing the change.

Plus, it ensures you have a formal procedure that can expedite decision-making. Ideally, management needs to be able to render a decision quickly, as delaying it can make necessary changes harder to address or could slow the project’s progress while the team is waiting for an answer.

Be Ready to Say “No”

Sometimes, the best thing management can do say “no” when a requested change isn’t necessary or justified. While it can be incredibly challenging to be that straightforward, it ensures there is no ambiguity about the decision. “No” is clear, and that’s why management needs to be ready to say it should the need arise.

Ultimately, all of the tips above can help managers handle scope creep. If you’d like to learn more about effective project management methods, the team at Apogee Managed Solutions can help. Contact us to discuss your questions with a member of our skilled staff today and see how our project management expertise can benefit you.


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