BEST PRACTICE: Establish a change request process.
Scope creep is one of the most common challenges that is encountered while managing a project and often leads to project overages, unsatisfied stakeholders and unsuccessful projects. Typically, requests for scope change come from those impacted most by the project -- stakeholders or functional team members. It is risky to let those same individuals approve the change request. Regardless of how important the change is, it is important to have the project sponsor involved in approving any changes. Each project must include a process to allow change requests to be submitted, ensure they are reviewed and the appropriate action taken.
Once the requirements are documented and locked, any request must be treated as a potential new request. Document and record the requests. Each request must be reviewed to determine the level of effort and whether the team has the capacity to incorporate the change without impacting the timeline, cost or quality of the product. If capacity does not exist, the stakeholders may agree to defer any current deliverable NOT currently in progress to a later release to make capacity for the new request. Otherwise, the new request must be placed on the 'future deliverables' list for future consideration.
Use caution when dealing with 'clarifying' requirements. While they may lead to changes to the design and may extend the timeline or increase cost, they should not be treated as 'new' requirements. They may, however, cause previously agreed to deliverables to be removed from scope to allow for the level of work not previously comprehended.
BEST PRACTICE: Monitor the plan, schedule and budget and note warning signs.
Review the workload and progress on a regular basis to determine how tasks are progressing.
Determine activities which are ahead or behind schedule and address issues or adjust the schedules.
Some early warning signs of concern:
- relying on overtime, especially early in the project;
- discovering that activities you think have already been completed are still being worked on.
- skipping or minimizing steps - like minimizing testing or quality control activities
If these situations occur, put together a plan to ensure that the project stays on track.