Scope Creep – Occurrence, Challenges, and How to control it?

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What is a Scope Creep?

Scope creep is the unconscious tendency to extend the project goals or requirements until they become undefined over a period of time. This is often due to lack of clarity, definition, and lack of control. 

One of the reasons why scope creep takes place is because of the expectations of stakeholders and customers who pose requests regarding a few updates or new features which is why it is likely to be disoriented from the main goal and keep the team’s focus steady. 

However, it is important to not view scope creep in a completely negative light because it is a natural and crucial process as a part of product development. Still, the problem is when the team is diverted with the wrong things. 

Customer needs can be incorporated once the initial requirements of the product have been met. Nevertheless, all of the changes must be aligned with the product vision, otherwise, there is a risk of wasting resources by focusing energy in the wrong places. 

Why does scope creep occur? 

One of the reasons why it commonly occurs is that the additional features and functions that have not been prioritized in the project roadmap keep getting added. 

Most of the time, the scope creep is traced to external factors. However, internal factors such as miscommunication, lack of understanding of the product vision and goals, or lack of cooperation within the team can play a role. 

What are the challenges of scope creep?

Scope creep is very likely to go unnoticed until it has reached the last stage and all the budget has been exhausted. 

Cost of the project is often the first sign of a scope creep. If additional changes and updates are made, the financial resources will be quickly depleted. 

The extra development can also increase other development costs such as design, production, etc. which takes a toll on overall profits. 

How to control scope creep?

To manage scope creep, it is necessary to prioritize the product roadmap in a way that the changes that are documented also display the effect they have on the timelines and the resources. 

A good product roadmap can also help to keep the scope creep in check in the following ways: 

  • Keep track of the product’s status.
  • Keep reminding yourself of the original core objective and the scope of the project. 
  • Constant comparison between the current progress and the core objective needs to be made. 
  • Change requests from clients or stakeholders need to be examined and challenged whether they are worth incorporating.
  • When the change is decided on to be incorporated, details of the causes of incorporation and how it will affect the development process need to be recorded.
  • All the changes made need to be documented and broken down into smaller achievable tasks.

FAQs

Q: Is scope creep harmful for business?

A: Though scope creep is often painted in a negative light, it is only a natural process and often quite essential for the growth of the company. Nevertheless, it is important to keep track of scope creep in order to prevent wastage of resources. 

Q: How to avoid scope creep? 

A: Scope creep cannot be completely avoided because doing so can create a very rigid development schedule without much room for flexibility. However, some of the ways to keep scope creep in check is by documenting the additional changes made in the product roadmap, detailing the required change into smaller achievable tasks, making sure that the change and its cause are well-examined before executing it, and finally, to constantly keep a tab on whether the work progress is running in parallel to the core objectives.

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