A project’s scope encompasses every task, goal, and target you must accomplish before releasing a product or service with the features you laid out in the project’s onset.
So what happens when you’re nearing the release date and your client requests a new feature that wasn’t part of the initial planning? If you ignore the request to maintain the scope of your project, you could upset the client. But if you accept and underestimate the complexity of the request you could end up missing your deadline and going over budget. You have to find balance.
This uncontrollable growth in the scope of your project is known as scope creep and it is a common problem. Here are five causes of scope creep and how you can avoid them.
Unclear project vision.
In order to complete a project by the deadline, a successful project manager has to have a clear vision. The better you plan, the better the results. Every project will undergo changes at some point. Though you are picky in approving the changes that are critical to the project’s completion, if you aren’t clear about the roadmap of your project, then you will be in an indecisive state. Early planning and a clear insight on the requirements will help your team go a long way.
Too rigid or too flexible.
Too much freedom or no freedom at all is not the answer. Just ask any parent of a teenager. Similarly, you have to find the right balance in project management between being too flexible or not flexible at all. Zero tolerance for changes turns out to be a big problem when you have to bill on an hourly basis. Though you can keep adding hours till the job is done, it doesn’t really add value to your project. The scope of the project will be taken for granted at the expense of time. Instead, leave some room for changes and bill for the project as a whole. It will not only keep the project open to minor changes, but also helps build a good reputation with clients.
Failure to set the right expectations.
You can’t always expect your clients to give you a clear picture on what they want. When their expectations aren’t conveyed properly, it can lead to lot of rework and confusion. To counter this, you have to ask a lot of questions and conduct frequent discussions with them to talk about the “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves” in your project. Get them involved at an early stage and relay their feedback to the respective teams at regular intervals. This way, you can avoid last minute rushes and create a more relaxed environment free of unnecessary stresses.
Not knowing when to say no.
If you are a project manager who says yes to everything, your project is prone to scope creep. When changes are made at the eleventh hour, as a manager, you have the power to control them. You have the power to either accept them and fit them into the same project’s scope, or convert them into a mini project to be billed in the future. Decision making plays a significant role in avoiding scope creep, and you need to know when to say no.
As your team grows in size, communication may suffer among team members. When issues arise, many people tend to pass the buck creating unnecessary hassle in the team. To avoid this problem, be on the look-out for good project management tools that help you create and follow up tasks, send reminders, chat with team members, and generate reports. By emphasizing the importance of collaboration, you can eliminate communication breakdown across your team.
Careful planning, smart decision making and clear communication can help you finish your projects on time, without scope creep getting in the way. Have your own tips on dealing with this problem? Let us know by commenting below.