Scope Creep

Posted on April 8, 2010 by

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What do you call a stakeholder who makes a project manager’s life miserable by adding requirements while expecting the budget, deadline, and resources to remain unchanged? A Scope Creep!  Alright, enough project management jokes—the actual standard definition of Scope Creep is uncontrolled changes to a project’s scope. Are these changes bad? Not necessarily—in fact they could even be critical for the project’s success. What’s bad is that the changes are uncontrolled.  Uncontrolled changes (which are usually additions to an approved project, not a decrease in requirements) can increase the risk of budget overruns and missed deadlines. These changes may even contradict the authorized purpose of the project. What are some things that can be done to avoid Scope Creep? First of all, clearly document early in the project not only what is in-scope, but what is specifically out-of-scope. Have a clear change control process in place where changes can be properly authorized. Lastly, leadership, such as the project manager and sponsor, must understand the focus of the project and not allow themselves to be pressured into accepting changes that do not support the project’s objectives.