Categorized | Management

Managing Project Scope

One of the key aspects to project management is delivering your objective. That objective may be outsourcing a service, it may be installing a new IT system or even completing the build of a new office complex. As a project manager you need to know exactly what it is your supposed to deliver and develop an appropriate work breakdown structure to accomplish it. Yes, I know that sounds obvious! But one of common reasons for cost or schedule increase is changes to the deliverable, often commonly referred to as scope creep.

What is scope creep? Give me an example!

Scope creep is delivering something differently or in addition to what was originally required.

Scope creep can happen in a variety of ways – with the project team making changes themselves or acting on a request from the customer – but ultimately it means changing the deliverable. So for example in an IT system implementation it may mean that once a particular report has been demonstrated the user decides that he would like 5 additional columns – a change in the color scheme, layout and the ability to add user generated data. The result is 100hrs extra work. This pushes the project outside its initial schedule and adds extra cost through the extra work required. This may seem pretty minimal but should this occur in the project a multitude of times then the impact can be significant.

Why manage scope creep

Scope creep affects schedule and cost and can in some instances affect the quality of the deliverable. It may seem all well and good to accept minor changes but accepting 10 minor changes can result in significant issues and without appropriate controls the final deliverable may be wildly different from what was original asked for. Therefore the project team must deploy appropriate processes and controls that ensure compliancy against what is supposed to be delivered at the end of the project.

Change control

But how do you keep on track? One of the key techniques used to ensure that scope creep doesn’t happen is understanding your deliverable in enough detail that any change is captured and routed for review rather than just being accepted. This requires appropriate processes and the project team should consider:

• Understand your requirement in sufficient detail
• Implement robust change control around your deliverable
• Agree Change tolerances with your steering board
• Agree a decision process on out of tolerance changes
• Be strict that you don’t implement what requirement

Where change is allowed – the processes should stipulate the appropriate authority or sign off of who can make alterations to the deliverable. This may be done in grades where if the impact to cost/schedule is minimal the project manager may accept the change – where it is significant it may require steering board approval.


Managing your deliverable is a key success factor in the success of your project. The project team should ensure robust change control procedures are in place and that any proposed changes are assessed from the impact of the project overall not just a particular work package or function.

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