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Scope Creep
By Steven G. Lauck

Scope Creep – two words that should never be spoken. I prefer to identify it as “Weak Project Management”. Successful project delivery is formed at the beginning of the project by a solid foundation. If this foundation is “weak” failure begins to creep in and all is usually lost. Corrective actions can be taken later in the project to recover but there is usually still a cost – Budget, Quality, Schedule and/or Scope.

Scope Creep comes down to just a few issues. Below are my corrective actions for each of them:

Weak project manager:

  • Learn how to be a project manager who takes charge and ownership of the project and team. A good start: Bare Knuckled Project Management.
  • Learn how to be a project leader as well.

Weak executive sponsor:

  • Be clear about what a sponsor should do. A good place to start: Be a Killer Sponsor.
  • Set time to meet with the sponsor and have a thorough discussion about your and their expectations. Draft an agreement.

Lack of proper requirements:

  • Learn how to create strong requirements. Ask lots of questions to identify & document the stakeholder’s vision for success.
  • Document, review and verify.

  • Enforce with Change Control.

Poor change control and management:

  • Learn how to create a strong change control process and procedure. One can find many examples or classes on the Net; modify to particular circumstances.
  • Enforce! Be leader enough to call-out anyone not following the process.

Poor communication between parties:

  • Learn how to create a strong communication plan.
  • Ask questions to identify & document the stakeholder’s communication needs.

  • This is a living document as communication needs may change with project execution.

  • Follow and Enforce.

Taking ownership and enforcement seem to be the hardest parts of being a project manager. I propose you visualize the end of the project explaining why the project failed. Would you really want to say any of the following statements:

  • “The sponsor did not support me or the project.”
  • “There were changes that I didn’t see or review, so I could not get the proper approvals.”

  • “The team didn’t communicate with me. They went around me to the client.”

  • “The approved requirements were limited to a few outcomes. Things were added.”

  • “I can’t challenge an executive vice president.”

Wishing you many successful projects!

Steven G. Lauck, PMP, has more than 18 years of project management experience across construction, engineering, facilities, and manufacturing (Capital Durable and Non-Durable Goods). His clients and employers span the full range of companies from small family owned operations to Global Fortune 100 firms. Combined, the total delivered project value is about $1BN USD. You can read more from Steven on his blog.

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