Scope Creep refers to a situation when a project goes beyond its defined scope. The scope creeps when the project manager does not work on the scope statement at the beginning of a project, and the stakeholders do not share a common idea about what they are working on. When the project’s requirements keep changing, more tasks or goals are included in the project’s scope. It wastes the resources and energy of the project team. It is one of the major reasons some projects fail to deliver the expected outcomes. The Scope Creep is also referred to as the requirement creep or feature creep.
What Is Scope Creep?
At the beginning of a project, the project manager gathers the project’s requirements and creates a scope statement in which they mention the features that will be included in a particular deliverable. If the project owner thinks that something is not what he expected, he can ask the project manager to change the statement. After all the changes have been made, different stakeholders agree upon the defined scope statement. Once the scope statement has been finalized, the project team will have to follow what was written in the statement. As per rules, the scope of a project must not be changed or modified once it has been finalized.
After some time, the project owner realizes that his product should have more features and resubmits his requirements to the project team. Now, the scope of the project will start to creep. All the estimates done according to the previous scope statement will become invalid, and the project team will have to spend more time and money on getting the updated estimates.
Scope Creep is the major reason behind the failure of many projects. It distracts the team and wastes the resources needed to achieve a project’s strategic goals. A product created after the scope creep fails to serve its purpose effectively and usefully.
Why Does Scope Creep?
The reasons behind the scope creep could vary depending upon the type of the project, but some major causes are as follows:
- An undefined Statement of Work (SoW)
- Undocumented agreements between the client and the project team
- Addition of unapproved and uncontrolled changes in project requirements or scope
- Poor communication (communication gap) between stakeholders
- An inflexible or existing change control process
- Unavailability of the project scope statement
Handling a Scope Creep
To prevent your project from scope creep, you need to have a scope management plan, change management plan, and risk management plan:
Scope Management Plan
The scope management plan is a part of your project plan that describes how the scope of your project will be established, controlled, and managed. The project managers use this document to ensure that all the stakeholders share a common idea about the project and understand how any changes would disturb the entire project management plan. This document includes:
- Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
- Scope statement
- A process will be used to get the scope approved by different stakeholders to set a baseline for your project.
Change Management Plan
A project rarely goes on exactly how it was defined in the project plan. The changes happen all the time, and the project managers have to adjust the budget, time, and scope according to these changes, but uncontrolled changes lead the project to failure.
The project managers should make sure that the changes are controlled and define a mechanism to control them. In the absence of a Change Management Plan, there is a high chance that the project’s scope will creep.
Risk Management Plan
A Risk Management Plan is a document that defines the strategies, roles, responsibilities, and funding for managing the risks. Simply put, it contains all the information regarding the risks associated with the project and the ways to mitigate and manage those risks.