Scope Creep

Slalom Consultant Carl Manello

Carl Manello is a Solution Lead for Program & Project Management based in Chicago who enjoys exploring how to tightly couple the art and science of project delivery with business operations.

“Scope Creep is out to get you, and your little dog too…”

It’s true. Scope creep, change requests, gold plating…all are issues that challenge a project’s delivery. Some impact the project from the onset; others impact the project throughout its life.

Scope Management begins with a clear statement of what is and what is not included within the boundaries of an initiative. As one of the nine PMI Knowledge areas, scope management is clearly a key for driving proactive project management.

This area is composed of project initiation, scope planning, definition, verification, and change control. Initiation is where the project begins with the outline of what [one wants] to accomplish and the processes that are required to make any alterations to the scope. (PMP Exam Cram 2, Francis & Horine, 2004, p. 20)

To break free from reactive management, one needs to clearly establish the scope of an initiative as soon as possible, ensure that all stakeholders are aligned and then carefully manage the scope over time. Establishing the scope is not hard. However, to do it with enough detail to add value to the initiative is where the challenge begins for some.

The development of a clear “project charter” takes some time and effort to get right. Typically, these project charters, statements of work, project agreements or business cases tend to be text-heavy documents that run on for dozens of pages. While I have seen templates that are less than effective, not all large documents are poor. However, can we really expect senior executive management to take time out of their busy day to pour over the details of our project’s charter? Not if it will take them more than 15 minutes!

One approach to meet the busy executives’ needs, and to meet the needs of the project manager, is the development of brief, bullet-pointed tables that capture scope along several different focus areas. The graphic below illustrates both IT and non-IT focus areas.

Six Domains of Scope Change

By developing bullet-point tables that clearly and briefly address what is IN SCOPE and what is OUT of SCOPE, the project team begins to communicate its vision to stakeholders at all levels. By removing ambiguity we enable understanding, which may in turn lead to consensus more quickly.

The project charter that is part of the Slalom Program & Project Management framework offers a format for capturing this information. If you would like to try and leverage this document into your current engagement, please let me know how I can help.

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About Carl M. Manello
I am Slalom Consulting's Practice Lead for Delivery Effectiveness. I work to support organizations' capability and delivery maturity -- not just IT organizations -- so that their initiatives run more predictably, efficiently and provide the best results.

4 Responses to Scope Creep

  1. Pingback: A Big Reason Why Large Goverment IT Projects Fail | Coaching Leaders

  2. Pingback: Scope Changes are not Unthinkable « The Slalom Blog

  3. Pingback: The Art of Project Management: Planning | The Slalom Blog

  4. Pingback: The art of project management: the four horsemen | The Slalom Blog

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