Scope creep remains the bane of any technology project manager. Once the requirements of a project are defined and the actual work begins, any changes to the specifications come at a great cost.
In fact, the growth and continued popularity of the Agile methodology is partially due to combating scope creep on IT projects. What follows are a few insights and ideas on how to best limit scope creep on a project, especially those using an older methodology, like the Waterfall. When the ultimate goal is happy clients and business stakeholders, these tips definitely need to be considered.
Transparent Communication is Essential When Defining Requirements
Of course, communication is important throughout any technology project, but it is especially important when requirements and specifications are being defined. Ensure all business stakeholders fully understand the decisions made on whether or not to include a certain feature. When getting their sign-off, emphasize that any changes to the specs from this point forward come at a great cost in dollars and/or time.
Keep the Communication Channels Open Throughout the Project
Once again, importance of open communication cannot be overstated when combating scope creep on an IT project. The project manager needs to facilitate this process, ensuring they get timely updates from the project team and subsequently informing the client. At the same time, the PM ensures any materials or information needed by the team from the stakeholders are received in a timely manner. Note that this sharply-defined level of communication is a natural part of an Agile project.
A Well-Defined Change Request Process is a Must
However, despite any efforts to limit it, changes to the specifications are still an unfortunate reality on many IT projects. Because of this possibility, it’s important to have a well-defined process around change requests. Following a similar procedure as when formulating the original requirements and specifications is the right approach.
All change requests need to require sign-off from the client, which also includes any changes to the schedule, delivery date, and final cost of the project. Yet again, open communication is essential.
Managing Expectations Remains Vital
The project manager remains the point person in limiting any adverse effects of scope creep. Change on an IT project is a reality. Ultimately, managing the expectations of the client helps ensure a copacetic outcome for all.
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