Managing Change and Scope Creep

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying ‘no’ to 1,000 things.”

Steve Jobs, as quoted in Forbes

Scope and Change Management

“Change is hard” is an adage that seems to be universal. Most of us do not like change and resist it whenever possible.   

Ironically, change seems to be easy during the execution of a project. Considering changes are a major factor why projects are delayed and/or are not completed. During the life cycle of a project, there are two challenges that often arise:

  • Scope creep and/or
  • Poorly managing change

What is “scope creep?” Whenever a project adds to the defined project’s scope that will impact the project’s timeline, costs, deliverables, and resources without appropriate consideration to the changes impact and/or approvals, this results in scope creep. Unfortunately, scope creep is a common obstacle to a project’s successful and timely execution.

In order to mitigate scope creep, consider the following:

  • Ensure the project’s scope is clearly defined prior to starting the project
  • Define requirements of End Users prior to starting the projectas we discussed in last month’s insights
  • Establish expectations for deliverables prior to starting the project
  • Manage End Users’ desire to include additional tasks during the project that will result in scope creep
  • Avoid making any changes without going through a formal change management process
  • Focus on executing based on the existing project plan instead of adding additional tasks to it. Once the project is executed, then look at addressing those scope tasks identified.

Inevitably, there will be times when it is necessary to extend the scope of the project. In those cases, a defined change management process should be following that includes:

  • Establish a process for change requests prior to starting the project, as was discussed in a previous insight
  • Define the additional requirements before incorporating the requested changes into the project’s scope
  • Determine the implications of expanding the requirements to the scope of the project, as well as the implications if the scope does not change (in other words, define the risks for changing the scope versus not changing the scope)
  • Evaluate the impact of the change to the project’s cost, resources, timeline, and deliverables
  • Document the requirements, including the impact to the project to ensure there is clarity on change requests
  • Obtain appropriate approvals prior to making any changes to the project
  • Update the project plan if the change is approved

Aldridge Kerr can help your organization execute your projects. We are experienced project managers.

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