Managing scope creep within your projects can be a daunting challenge. As soon as you get started, new ideas start flowing through the project team, and before you know it, your project is nearly unrecognizable from it’s original scope. Even with project management software, it’s up to project managers to ensure their projects stay on track.
Sources of Scope Creep
- Unclear requirements: Some projects have “I know it when I see it” style requirements – making it nearly impossible to ensure that you have clear parameters for your project. Without defined parameters, your scope is also undefined.
- Underestimated project complexity: Some project requirements seem relatively simple on the surface, but require more effort to complete. When this happens, projects can quickly escalate out of scope in terms of duration, effort, and cost.
- Poor communication: Project team members and clients working in isolation can allow tasks to veer off course unknowingly.
- Poor change control: A level of scope creep can be expected with any project, but having a system to manage change requests allows you to set priority and determine which changes can be accommodated.
How to Control Scope Creep
Shelley Doll identifies seven steps to avoid scope creep on TechRepublic:
- Be sure you thoroughly understand the project vision. Meet with the project drivers and deliver an overview of the project as a whole for their review and comments.
- Understand your priorities and the priorities of the project drivers. Make an ordered list for your review throughout the project duration. Items should include budget, deadline, feature delivery, customer satisfaction, and employee satisfaction. You’ll use this list to justify your scheduling decisions once the project has commenced.
- Define your deliverables and have them approved by the project drivers. Deliverables should be general descriptions of functionality to be completed during the project.
- Break the approved deliverables into actual work requirements. The requirements should be as detailed as necessary and can be completed using a simple spreadsheet. The larger your project, the more detail you should include. If your project spans more than a month or two, don’t forget to include time for software upgrades during development and always include time for ample documentation.
- Break the project down into major and minor milestones and complete a generous project schedule to be approved by the project drivers. Minor milestones should not span more than a month. Whatever your method for determining task duration, leave room for error. When working with an unknown staff, I generally schedule 140 to 160 percent of the duration as expected to be delivered. If your schedule is tight, reevaluate your deliverables. Coming in under budget and ahead of schedule leaves room for additional enhancements.
- Once a schedule has been created, assign resources and determine your critical path using a PERT Chart or Work Breakdown Structure. Microsoft Project will create this for you. [Note: Cloud Coach builds an interactive Gantt chart based on your phases, tasks, and task dependencies.] Your critical path will change over the course of your project, so it’s important to evaluate it before development begins. Follow this map to determine which deliverables must be completed on time. In very large projects, I try not to define my phase specifics too early, but even a general plan will give you the backbone you need for successful delivery.
- Expect that there will be scope creep. Implement Change Order forms early and educate the project drivers on your processes. A Change Order form will allow you to perform a cost-benefit analysis before scheduling (yes, I said scheduling) changes requested by the project drivers.
Managing Scope Creep with Cloud Coach
Cloud Coach provides tools to help you define and manage your project scope.
- Project Charters: Using project charters help you track the goals of your project, the key stakeholders (with whom you want to maintain communication), and the project justification. This allows you to refer back to your project charters when evaluating change requests.
- Communication tools: Cloud Coach utilizes embedded communication features, like Chatter, to ensure that your team can effectively and efficiently communicate project progress. This ensures your team is always on the same page – and keeps important project communication out of email.
- Interactive Gantt chart with critical path: As you build your project, you’ll identify the key dependencies between your project tasks. The interactive Gantt Chart not only shows your project and task duration, but allows you to see the tasks on your critical path at a glance.
- Track and approve change requests: Use tickets on your project, phase, or tasks to track change requests and risks that could affect your project deliverability. Effective use of tickets helps you hold your team to the established scope – or measure the impact of changing your scope.
Learn more about how Cloud Coach can help you efficiently manage your projects and minimize scope creep. Visit us on the Salesforce AppExchange or request a custom demo today.