“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say and do may be used against you in the court of law”. With the amount of IT projects failing to meet its objectives, maybe its time we as IT Project Managers start using this phrase and begin arresting one of the biggest nuisance in the world of Project Management (especially IT Projects); SCOPE CREEP.
Mind you, nuisances in the profession of Project Management are plenty, but nothing as silent, yet lethal as SCOPE CREEP. The fact that this nuisance is (more often than not) created by the very person we want to protect it from (i.e. Project Sponsor or Customer) makes it more challenging for us as Project Managers to wrestle with.
Mathew was surprised to discover that many project managers had not even heard of the term ‘Scope Creep’, let alone safeguarding the project from it. Expecting the project managers to, not only understand, but also have the ability to fight against Scope Creep is <u>not</u> expecting a project manager to be a Super Hero (refer to Mathew’s post “A Project Manager is a Super Hero!!!“to read about unrealistic expectations from a Project Manager). Such an expectation from the project manager only ensures that the project is in the safe hands of someone who understand the dangers of Scope Creep and has what it takes to keep it away from the project.
To understand Scope Creep, let’s go back to basics and in the case of Project Management, what better than the PMBoK. As per PMBoK, SCOPE CREEP occurs when features and functionalities (project scope) are added without addressing the effects on time, costs, and resources, or without customer approval.
As the profession of Project Management matures, Project Scope Management continues to be given more emphasis. Gone are the days when a project would start execution simply on ‘Good Faith’; without a documented project scope. Agreed that ‘Customer is King’, however, Project Management in today’s world compels the ‘King’ to put down his/her wish-list upfront in black-n-white. This in itself lays the foundation for the fight against Scope Creep.
Getting a signoff from the ‘King’ on the documented scope is one thing, however, monitoring it to ensure that nothing is added to it is a completely different ball game. It is the lack of this ‘monitoring’ that has given rise to the nuisance of Scope Creep.
Scope Cope is as dangerous to a project as Termite is to a Wooden House. Like is the case with Termites; smoke detectors don’t detect it, anti-burglary systems don’t catch it; however, if not discovered and actioned timely and appropriately, you would bear witness to your dream house go down to dust. Similarly in most cases, Scope Creep literally creeps its way into the project without anyone detecting it; and once it does so, spells doom for the project. Some times it’s disguised as ‘Progressive Elaboration’, other times, it blatantly stares you in your face.
For those who have never heard of Scope Creep, hopefully, this post acquaints you to your silent (yet lethal) enemy in the profession of Project Management. The mere acknowledgement of the existence of Scope Creep is a step in the right direction, but remember, its just a step. The journey
Do you agree with Mathew that Scope Creep is a nuisance? Let Mathew know by leaving a comment.