A repeat offender of deadline delay and budget shortage, scope creep is an inevitable part of project management. And, when handled poorly, scope creep is a leading cause of project failure. To avoid these costly missteps, be sure to document a clear project plan before any work ensues. This should include budget, deadlines, core requirements and deliverables, and all customer project drivers must agree on the plan before moving forward. Create a schedule based on this vision; revisit and re-share it often to keep all constituents on track. Use your past experiences to set realistic expectations with your customer—it’s better to under-promise and over-deliver than to make idealistic promises that fall through and disappoint. In any project you will likely experience a level of scope creep, but sufficient planning and aligning the right people can help you stay on track. To mitigate its impact, consider the prevention pointers below:
- DEFINE both what’s included in the project agreement and what work falls outside of its scope to clarify boundaries and avoid misunderstandings further down the line.
- COMMUNICATE in real-time with customers about progress, obstacles and unforeseen issues or deadlines.
- BE HONEST AND COURAGEOUS when dealing with unexpected customer requests, rather than trying to squeeze in additional work out of eagerness to please. Your candid feedback will ultimately save everyone time and frustration.