Project Smart ~ Exploring trends and developments in project management today

Calendar iconNot recorded
Adobe PDF icon

Managing Scope Creep - Don't Gold Plate My Project!

~ By Project Smart

Gold robe or cloth for a monk

When the scope, or extent, of a project is improperly or insufficiently defined, confusion, delays, and/or cost overruns - scope creep - typically result. Preventing scope creep and managing scope creep is, therefore, built into successful project management.

If the project manager has done sufficiently thorough planning "homework" and subsequent monitoring entailed in ensuring that a given project is accomplished on target, on time, and on budget, without exceeding the specifications and resources allocated, scope creep is unlikely or diminished. If management is lax or incomplete, however, drifting from the original project parameters is only to be expected.

Insufficiently strict or delineated project parameters invite scope creep. If a project takes on a life of its own, it may be a result of poor requirements definition at the project outset, or from failure to sufficiently include project stakeholders somewhere in the project lifecycle.

An effective project plan is based on a reality and needs-based requirements assessment. You need to know before setting out where you're going, what and who you'll need to get there, and when you need to arrive. Because if you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there. And you'll likely wander fruitlessly all over in the process. Informed planning and definition of the project outcome and needs are necessary to anticipate and prevent scope creep.

If scope creep cannot be prevented, it must be managed. Chess champions say that after 40 wrong moves, no one can take over and win the game. But we're not talking about continued uncontrolled changes in a project's scope, but controlled changes. Managing project scope creep, the unplanned, unforeseen incremental expansion of a project to include and introduce additional requirements or dimensions than initially envisioned, requires compensatory assessing and adjusting. It requires change control, to restore the balance among the three constraints that are critical elements of every project:

  1. Time - when is it due?
  2. Budget - how much can you spend?
  3. Performance - what results must be achieved?

In gold-plating scope creep, the original project requirements are augmented or embellished to make the project end-result better, more technically perfect. Again, if the initial project requirements were sufficiently specific, clear and detailed, deviation from the plan specifications would be more difficult and less likely.

In the real world, the triple constraints of a project are never identical in priority. They are trade-offs. Compromises. Project managers in the real world must decide which compromises are least damaging to the project, and they must prioritise.

The least damaging factor will be the weakest of the three, the one that is either the most flexible and/or the least important to achieving your project goal.

Alternately, the least flexible factor and/or the most important to accomplishing the project is your driver. Whatever happens, failure to satisfy the "driver" constraint, equates to failure to accomplish the project goal. Settle on the firmest of a project's three constraints, involving the project originator insofar as possible and realistic, and let that be your guide.


Comments

Be the first to comment on this article.

Add a comment



(never displayed)



 
2000
Is it true or false that red is a number?
Notify me of new comments via email.
Remember my form inputs on this computer.

Project Risk: Is It All Bad?

Road warning sign - Risks Ahead

Risk Management is an essential part of any programme or project and can vastly contribute to successful delivery.

Coming to Terms With the Finish Date

Colourful calendar pages

Every project has a finish date. This article looks at how the finish date for a project is derived and how a project team comes to terms with that date.

How to Get the Most From Your Project Team

Project team in a huddle

Project management is people management. Here's our reminder of how to make sure you get the most from your project team.

How Agile Practices Reduce Requirements Risks

Road warning sign - Risks Ahead

Every software project carries some risk, but many of these risks can be mitigated. That's true of problems related to product requirements.

PROJECT SMART is the project management resource that helps managers at all levels improve their performance. We provide an important knowledge base for those involved in managing projects of all kinds. With weekly exclusive updates, we keep you in touch with the latest project management thinking.

WE ARE CONNECTED ~ Follow us on social media to get regular updates and opinion on what's happening in the world of project management.


Latest Comments

Guy Scudamore commented on…
The 8-Step Guide to Creating a Quality Project Schedule
- Sat 23 November 9:31pm

Thomas Uptimer commented on…
How to Do RACI Charting and Analysis: A Practical Guide
- Fri 22 November 6:39pm

Paul commented on…
5 Tips for Successful Projects
- Thu 21 November 12:37pm

Latest tweets

General Project Management • Looking at getting into project management without a degree https://t.co/ZL47dQ3Cor about 3 days ago

General Project Management • Re: Automatic resource allocation depending on tasks - help! https://t.co/DQHyy8uNcg about 11 days ago

General Project Management • Best PMP Training Online https://t.co/Ey5kCnP1dB about 15 days ago