Thursday, 16 February 2012

Scope Creep

The first and most important part of any project is the Scope.  The scope must be defined, signed off and locked away and a change management process must be followed to make any changes. 

Scope Creep is one of the projects worst enemies and is something that all Project Managers work to avoid.  If a change is to be made, then all the stakeholders must understand the impact to the project in terms of Risk and Cost in terms of financial or schedule. 

A change to the project should be formal and may result in additional risks to the project, for example some of the resources may not be available for an extended period, or the change may impact other projects within the organisation. 

There are several causes of Scope Creep, but the most common cause is that the requirements were poorly defined.  This can be combated by spending a little more time on the PID and making sure that all the users and stakeholders are involved in this early stage within the project.  A PID is the Project Initiation Document, which is a Prince2 term and is created to "...define the project’s scope and direction and use it as the basis for its authorisation, management and assessing its success.  The document details all the foreseeable areas of the project, such as goals, scope, risks, controls and budget.".  I will discuss the PID in a further article. 

To manage the project scope, you need to make sure you are aware of the end game.  You need to know the purpose of the project and how are you going to get there?  For this the fundamental rule for my projects is to get the project defined, break it into steps and make sure these are delivered in the correct order.  I always add a sentence to my Project Definition to the effect that says "Anything that is not disclosed within this Project Definition and PID, is outside of the scope of this project.".  This tells the stakeholders within the project, that if is not in the document, it is not going to be delivered. 

In summary, make sure you have the project scope written down and signed off.  When changes to the scope arise, make sure a project change document is created and authorised by the stakeholders, before you consider changing the scope.  This change of scope will require the Project Change Document as well as a budget review and a Project Plan review.  In larger organisations the Programme Manager will need to be involved as this change in a single project may impact other projects in their portfolio. 

Beware of Project Scope Creep !

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