Ways to prevent scope creep
Project managers need to understand what scope creep is and take actionable steps to help manage it as much as possible. You can do this in a few different ways depending on the project timeline. This includes:
Define the scope of your project
Before work begins, project managers and stakeholders must get together and answer a few key questions.
- What exactly are you trying to accomplish?
- What does this project need to solve?
- How are you going to execute that vision?
- What metrics will be used to measure success?
One key element of the scope creep definition is uncertainty, so answering these questions through a scope statement before work begins can help eliminate that entirely.
Prioritize important tasks
Adding 1 or 2 small tasks to the project timeline may seem reasonable, but when this happens, the volume of work adds up, taking away people's attention from more important matters. Make sure that all critical tasks are prioritized, and if there's time, add projects that aren't a part of the original scope statement.
It's also best practice to document requirements and changes. A project manager must always have real-time visibility into what work is accomplished by who and why. Once all project requirements are understood, the team should stick to the established work breakdown structure. If they deviate from it, justifications need to be conveyed as to why this is happening at this particular moment.
So much of project scope creep comes down to miscommunication.
For example, if a client's expectations are skewed at the beginning of the project, you might only realize it once a significant amount of work has been completed. As you move closer to delivering a finished product, the client starts to demand changes--not necessarily because they're being picky, but because they didn't understand what was being accomplished in the first place.
Always have a communication strategy and communicate with project stakeholders and team members to ensure everyone understands what success looks like and how close (or far away) you are to it.
Know when to say "no”
One of the best ways to avoid scope creep in project management is to understand what requests and sudden changes can be accommodated and which ones can't be added to the agreed-upon project timeline. Not every request has to be met with immediate approval, especially if it runs the risk of causing significant delays or altering the project's scope in any way.
Overall, you must use a combination of the above best practices to make sure everyone is on the same page and moving in the same direction at all times. Scope creep occurs to various degrees, depending on where you are on the project timeline and your stakeholder management strategy. Understanding the warning signs and leaning into a work breakdown structure that addresses the issues mentioned are great ways to ensure this is something you can handle moving forward.
Minimize scope creep for successful projects
In the end, scope creep can be an issue for any project due to an unfortunately long list of reasons. Sometimes, communication gaps exist to the point where goals and expectations are never properly conveyed. Other times, those goals are vague at best and unrealistic at worst. Regardless, this can result in major delays and hinder the quality of the work being accomplished.
By defining the scope of a project as early in the process as possible, making a proactive effort to prioritize important tasks, and communicating clearly and effectively, you can address any scope creep problems and prevent project issues from occurring moving forward.
If you want to easily track the progress of your marketing campaigns, use Mailchimp. With a comprehensive analytics dashboard, you can obtain a holistic view of your projects and ensure objectives are met.