ATD Blog

Managing Scope Creep

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Scope creep is the factor most mentioned as the thing that destroyed the success of the project. It is so common to start projects and have them morph into bigger projects. Project managers blame the stakeholders for changing their minds, and stakeholders blame the project managers for adding complexity that is really not necessary. Both are true.

Depending on your processing style, you may take one or two steps to start building scope diagrams. If you tend to be more analytical and detailed, you may start with a table. If you are more visual and nonlinear as a thinker, you may skip this step and go straight to a picture. In either case, it might be best to try both just to figure out what works for you.

Either way, you are working to discover two things. First, who will provide necessary guidance to the project team while building the solution? Some people call these the inputs to the project. This may include some or all of the following questions:

  • Who will provide the requirements—the specifications of what’s needed?
  • Who will be writing the check for the work? Who manages the budget?
  • Who will tell you what processes or standards need to be followed?
  • Who will provide the technology needed?
  • Who will provide the people you will need (and determine if you will need or get more)?
  • Who will do the design work?
  • Who will do the testing or compliance work?

Second, you will also ask yourself, “Who or what (for example, systems) will receive things from this project?” Some people call these the output of the project. This may include some or all of the following questions:

  • To whom will the project deliver reports?
  • Who will receive the final deliverables of the project?
  • What systems will the project have to build interfaces with?
  • Who will do the training for the rollout, and what do they need to do this?
  • Who will do marketing and sales for the rollout, and what do they need to do this?

Want to learn more? Join me for the Project Management for Learning Professionals Certificate.

About the Author

Lou Russell is president and CEO of Russell Martin & Associates. She is the author of the ATD Press books Project Management for Trainers, Leadership Training and 10 Steps to Successful Project Management, among other titles. In addition to her many books, she contributes frequently to Computer World, Cutter Executive Reports, and Network World, among others, and publishes Learning Flash, an electronic newsletter.

Lou speaks at several national and international conferences, such as the Project Management Institute, Project World, and LotuSphere. She holds a bachelor's degree in computer science from Purdue University, where she taught database and programming classes, and a master's degree in instructional technology from Indiana University.

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