Scope Creep

Scope creep is a risk, which can cause some undesirable outcomes such as going over budget, missed deadlines, team burnout, and stakeholder dissatisfaction – to name a few.

It’s not unheard of that the needs of customers may change midway through a project, prompting a reassessment of the project requirements. It can be the result of stakeholders losing focus on their initial goals, or the project scope agreement was lacking clarity and depth in outlining the requirements from the start.

However, if changes are not managed with the original scope (budget/timelines/quality) in mind, what once started out as a single-deliverable project can easily morph into a mammoth undertaking with multiple deliverables. It is crucial to manage scope creep to ensure you can deliver a project that meets its goals in a timely manner and within budget.

Below are some tips on project scope management to avoid scope creep.

Recognize Scope Creep Immediately
The moment a new idea or change of direction is presented while a project is underway, clearly and immediately communicate to the stakeholder that the change falls outside the initially defined scope of the project. A good way to communicate this is to say,

“Let me check in with the team so we can understand how much additional time and budget this will require, and I will get back to you.”

This assures the client that their ideas are being considered, while clearly stating that the new idea will be an extra task which adds time and cost to the project. Moreover, the non-committal nature of the statement provides room for discussion on whether this will be the right direction to move forward.

Assume All Additional Requests Will Affect Timeline and Cost
Project or production management is all about meeting client needs. Managing client expectations is one of many keys to building and retaining a good relationship with your client.

Having a ‘Yes’ attitude is great for delivering a positive can-do experience, however, the risk here is underdelivering on quality and/or speed, and clients being overbilled.

In the midst of a large project, for every add-on task the client suggests or requests, making sure to clearly outline the fact that this will affect the delivery deadline, and provide a quote for the change of scope costs to the project.

Cost and Demand Diagram

Consult with Your Team of Experts
A request could extend your timeline, increase your cost or affect the quality of the project. Consulting with specialists in your team will give you confidence in addressing the impact of your client’s additional scope requests.

And last but not least, document everything and have it communicated clearly!