Scope creep

Publié le 10 février 2008 par Frederic Casagrande

Well, I decided to spend some more of my free time (whatever this might be) to put my blog back on track, and felt like blogging about Scope Creep. This phenomenon typically refers to an uncontrolled change and increase in a project's scope. Wikipedia defines it as a result of a poor change control, poor communication between parties, weak project manager or executive sponsor, or lack of proper initial identification of what is required to bring about the project objectives.

From my experience, I would say that the last of the above is really by far the mot impacting factor on scope creep, and most of the troubled projects I have worked on were in that situation because of poor initiation and planning. Without proper planning, you don't have a baseline; and without a baseline, you can't measure the variation against the plans (budget and schedule).

Recovering a project by doing the proper initiation at the mid-execution phase is tricky, and it is not always possible to put things back on track. The only possible course of action is to improve dramatically on stakeholder identification and management; communication management and change management to limit the overrun of original budget and schedule.

Scope creep is a major risk in most projects, and without extra attention at all the stages of a project, you will fall into this pit without a doubt. The worst case scenario is if your sponsor has not signed off a Project Charter or Project Initiation Document. In that case, you can't even refer to a document defining what was in the initial scope and what was not in the initial scope, and you will have to cope with the additional deliverables without additional time and budget.

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