Scope Creep happens more often than expected. This causes costs to go up, targets being missed, and then triggers a domino effect as it spreads from one part of a project to the next.
The most common reason for this to occur is a lack of communication. In most cases, it stems from individuals not asking the right questions or not asking enough questions altogether. When this communication breakdown occurs, there is no clear plan of what needs to be done or who needs to be doing what. At this point, the project has no direction.
So what steps do you need to take to ensure you are looking at the bigger picture of the project?
Before even beginning the project, certain questions need to be asked and answered to establish a business case. A proper business case will outline the justification and objectives of any project.
This is usually done in three stages. Firstly, by asking a sufficient number of questions to establish clear guidelines as to what is to be accomplished. Secondly, pointing out aspects that haven’t been thought of or discussed yet. Finally, bringing up anything that you think might occur at a later stage to avoid anything creeping up unexpectedly. It is important to point out how underestimated the power of asking questions is. We don’t realize that asking questions is a skill set that allows us to dig deeper, define and understand the whole picture.
Ensure you have clarified the actual target date and ensured that this is when the project must be finished. Many times you will find that there are multiple target dates or it is unclear as to when and why the project must be finished by that designated date.
Clearly define and outline the scope of the project using the exercise conducted in step 1. This will give the project management team and stakeholders a clear vision and path to ensure that project will run smoothly from the start and keep the momentum going down the line.
Tighten up your management with a sufficient amount of progress checkpoints, highlight reports or sprints when creating your project plan. This might be interpreted by some as micro-managing, but this is not your intention. On the contrary, what you will be doing is keeping the lines of communication open to ensure there are only short gaps between one briefing and another. In cases where teams go long periods without communicating their progress and any problems they have run into, they can lose sight of the big picture due to unexpected issues which then leads to delays and eventually scope creep once again.
Your project will run more smoothly when you communicate clearly and all parties have a proper understanding of what’s going on as opposed to an assumed understanding of the big picture. When a project is managed properly, it creates engagement at all levels and empowers the team through having a clear path on delivering the project.