Proven Strategies for Controlling Scope Creep

Picture the scenario: You’re the BA on an implementation project. Everything is going well and milestones are being met. All stakeholders are happy.

Then, all of a sudden, a stakeholders tells you that the system just HAS to do something that was never planned for in the Requirements. It just HAS to have a field to track a customer’s credit status. It HAS to have a maker-checker approval workflow for modifying transactions. It HAS to have the ability to attach documents to a customer’s record.

The list goes on…you’re flooded with numerous change requests and you realize you have serious scope creep issues. Scope creep is one of the most common things in projects and to be honest, I did not realize how detrimental it was at first. Aside from the fact that it distracts everyone from delivering the base outcomes of a project, takes away hours and hours of our time as BAs and drives your PM and Program Director insane.

I am breaking this post into two parts to open up discussion on my strategies for controlling scope creep. My point of view is that of a Business Analyst but you can apply these ideas to any sort of project regardless of your role with the project.

Over-Communicate to Users

One of THE most effective and undeniable ways to control scope creep is through over-communication with your stakeholders and users. I’ve found that when people are continuously involved and kept up-to-date on the status of a project, they will be more amenable to ideas and will provide necessary buy-in when you need it.

Just picture yourself entrenched in a project that you’ve been updating a user regularly every two days about the project’s status, issues you are facing and the progression of the timeline. If, out of the blue, there is an unexpected “enhancement item” requested/required by this user, it is going to be a great deal easier for you to negotiate and request, for example, a rescheduling of said enhancement.

Compare this scenario to a situation in which you have not communicated with the user, at all, during the project. That user, mark my words, is going to be unyielding when pushing their enhancement through.

Documentation, Documentation, Documentation

Document EVERYTHING to help control scope creep. As a project manager, there are countless discussions and agreements that occur outside of official meetings.

NEVER agree to anything outside of an official meeting. Always minute and document agreements and decision points though a formal meeting. That way, if a user disputes something was signed off and agreed, you can refer to the meeting minutes as evidence.

People forget about things. You have to have documentary evidence that things were agreed on knowing that people forget things.

R.E. Ferguson

About The Analytical Consultant

Analytics and Business Intelligence professional with over 15 years of experience.
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