Project ManagementHow to Avoid Scope Creep

How to Avoid Scope Creep content and product recommendations are editorially independent. We may make money when you click on links to our partners. Learn More.

What is Project Management?

Scope creep is a common problem in project management that can cause your software development project to take longer and exceed the planned budget. Scope creep can be a real pain, but by being aware of it and taking steps to prevent it, project managers can keep their projects on track. In this project management tutorial, we will take a look at what scope creep is, why it occurs, and how to combat it.

Looking to become certified as a project manager? We have a list of the Best Project Management Certifications to help get you started.

What is Scope Creep?

Scope creep can be defined as a phenomenon that occurs whenever alterations are made to the scope of a project without using any control measures, such as change requests. It affects the project’s timeline, budget, expenses, and resource allocation, as well as the achievement of milestones and objectives.

Scope creep happens when the project team starts adding new features or tasks to the project, without first getting approval from the client or manager. This can often lead to problems, because it can cause the project to go over budget, or take longer than originally planned. To avoid scope creep, it is important to have a clear and concise definition of what the project scope is at the beginning of the project.

There are several reasons due to which scope creep can occur, such as new ideas being generated, changes in the market, or even just poor planning. Scope creep can have serious consequences for your business – it can cause delays, overruns and dissatisfaction and frustration in the team.

The good news is that it is possible to prevent scope creep by establishing clear expectations right from the start of a project. Doing so will help project managers avoid these issues altogether by giving everyone involved in the project a clear understanding of what’s expected from them.

What Causes Scope Creep?

Scope creep is an uncontrolled change of the project scope. It occurs when requirements or needs are added during implementation without proper consideration, review, or planning. Scope creep can be caused by a number of factors, including (but not limited to):

  • Poor project management – Unclear project objectives and goals, poor communication between stakeholders, unclear roles and responsibilities (or lack thereof), and lack of stakeholder management are just some reasons why it may happen.
  • Poor communication between stakeholders – If stakeholders aren’t communicating with each other about changes to their projects or requirements for them to complete their work properly, then it’s likely that the scope will grow uncontrollably over time due to this lack of communication and collaboration among team members.
  • Poor stakeholder management – If your client doesn’t give you all the information up front about what he/she wants from his/her project before you start working on it (and possibly even during), then there will definitely be a lot more revisions later on down the line since he/she won’t know exactly what they want until after they see how good their website looks once its finished being designed!

Tips to Avoid Scope Creep

Scope creep occurs when the original scope or requirements of a project change, usually without the corresponding increase in resources. This can happen for a variety of reasons, but it often happens because the project team did not properly plan for or manage the project.

Scope creep can have a major impact on a project, causing it to go over budget, miss deadlines, and generally fail to meet the expectations of the stakeholders. It is important to avoid scope creep whenever possible, and there are a few ways to do this.

Define the Scope of the Project

Before you start a new project, it’s essential to define the scope. It can take a long time to complete this process if a project manager does not have a good strategy. Defining your goals is the first step. How do you plan to achieve your goals? How do you envision the future?

As a first step, ensure that you have a well-written scope document outlining the project’s deliverables. Before work begins, all stakeholders should review and approve this document. The points outlined in this document should be strictly adhered to while work is in progress.

Set these goals before starting any implementation strategy or solution—this will help keep things on track during the entire software development lifecycle. Ensure things stay realistic with the expectations – do not set unrealistic timelines or goals. Never make promises or commitments beyond what is feasible for the team with the resources at hand.

If changes to the scope are required, make sure that you get approval from all stakeholders before proceeding. And, finally, make sure that your project team is aware of the dangers of scope creep and knows how to avoid it.

Set up Change Control Processes

It is imperative that project managers manage and regulate changes in their project in order to avoid scope creep. You will require a change management strategy to describe the change control processes that must be adhered to. You should also have a risk management strategy in place that specifies how often the overall status of your project will be assessed.

Project Requirements Should Be Well-documented

Documenting project requirements is the key to avoiding scope creep. Your project requirements document must define the project scope with clarity. Prioritize the requirements since you can not complete them all. A requirements management plan should include all the information required to manage project requirements, such as how to monitor them and how to alter them. It would help if you also made the documents accessible for everyone on the team to review.

Create a Clear Project Schedule

A project schedule is the roadmap for your project. It will include all of the steps that need to be completed, who is responsible for completing each step, and how long it should take to complete it.

By creating a comprehensive project schedule before you start working on your software, product, or service, you can make sure that everyone involved understands their role in the project and when they are expected to complete their tasks.

This will also help prevent any last-minute changes or additions from occurring later on in development if they are outlined early on. You can take advantage of work breakdown structure (WBS) to create a detailed task list and track the project (tasks, milestones, etc.) in a Gantt chart.

Looking for tools to help you manage your team’s software development projects? We have list of the Best Project Management Tools for Developers to help you decide on which PM tool is best for your project.

Final Thoughts on How to Avoid Scope Creep

When beginning a project, it is critical to describe its scope precisely and succinctly to avoid scope creep. These techniques will assist you in avoiding scope creep and staying on track with your project. It is an imperative that the team agrees with this defined scope before work gets started. Additionally, the customer or management should decide on any modifications to the scope.

Although scope creep can be difficult to avoid, by being aware of the factors that contribute to it and taking the necessary steps to manage your projects appropriately, project managers will have less chance of encountering it or be affected adversely by it. By being clear about your project goals from the outset, communicating regularly with your team, and keeping a close eye on your project budget and schedule, you can keep scope creep from derailing your next big software development project.

Read more project management tutorials and project management tool reviews.

Get the Free Newsletter!

Subscribe to Developer Insider for top news, trends & analysis

Latest Posts

Related Stories