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Managing scope creep in your business IT projects

Upgrading or expanding your IT infrastructure is no simple task. Cloud computing, software upgrades, or data security systems, for example, are all IT projects intended to improve your organisation’s performance, productivity, and revenue. When you are investing in IT resources you want to optimise the process and ensure there are no delays or budget overruns that can threaten the project or delay the benefits of the initiative itself.

One of the biggest obstacles to project completion is scope creep, and it is also one of the most difficult to avoid. Fortunately, there are several ways that IT project management services can help keep your efforts on track and prevent scope creep. 

What is scope creep and how does it happen?

The scope of a project is the project’s work plan and deliverables, as well as the project’s schedule, specifications, limitations, and key outcomes. Every project’s requirements form the scope. 

When a project’s original scope expands beyond what was agreed upon, that is called scope creep. Changes are almost always likely to occur when working on a project, but uncontrolled alterations can lead to delays and affect the project completion and outcomes. Half of all projects are impacted by scope creep, resulting in significant delays and budget overruns. 

What can lead to scope creep?

There are many factors that lead to scope creep, and can include changes to budget or a lack of productivity which lead to alterations that occur outside the original scope of the project. The project may end up being very different from how it was originally envisioned, resulting in longer schedules as each new change is introduced.

Flexibility and agility is vital to ensuring any new changes that can have a positive impact on the project and benefit the company overall. However, it is important to prevent issues that occur from significant scope creep, which can occur through the following ways: 

  • No scope of project statement
  • Without a clear statement of work there are no defined goals and processes
  • Not documenting communication and agreements between team members and stakeholders leads to confusion
  • Information silos among members of the project team, clients, and stakeholders
  • Not having or inflexible change control processes 
  • Continually changing goals or lack of commitment to achieving goals
  • Creating and adding new changes without approval 
  • Unrealistic time frames and deadlines.

IT projects

How to avoid scope creep in your IT projects?

The success of any project depends on keeping on track and ensuring any changes are approved only after determining the benefit to the project goal. The following strategies can work towards safeguarding against being sidetracked from the beginning of a project:

Clarify project requirements

Before beginning a project, communicate with project stakeholders to find out what their overall expectations are. If conflicts arise, mediate and reach a unified conclusion before beginning the project. If an agreement cannot be reached, determine whether the issue should be prioritised within the project scope and whether it is important to the overall project. Document everything that you and your team agree on and use it as the foundation for project planning and the project scope statement. 

Change management process

When a project is in progress, there should be a standard procedure for reviewing, approving, and implementing changes. This process should identify who on the project team is responsible for each phase and be established before the project begins. 

Process schedule

The project requirement document should be used to organise all project activities, ensuring that all requirements are fulfilled and that the project progresses smoothly. Remember that the project may evolve over time, and include some leeway and contingencies for potential changes. 

Open communication channels

Make sure you and your team are on the same page before starting a project by reviewing the finalised schedule and requirements list. This ensures you can avoid confusion and that everyone agrees on a final plan. Include any issues your team members raise in your contingency strategy and implement an ongoing communication process for all phases of the project. 

Project management tools 

Advanced software and tools for project management can ensure your project team can function efficiently and keep the project on task. Project managers can employ tools such as Microsoft Project to create project plans, assign resources, keep track of progress, monitor budgets, and track workloads. This helps to keep on top of any potential issues, monitor scope creep, and stay ahead of the curve. 

IT project management with the experts

Major IT projects and digital transformation initiatives can be difficult to design, plan, and execute in a timely manner. You can ensure that your project avoids scope creep from day one by using the right IT project management services. Contact the IT project management experts at INTELLIWORX to ensure your business IT project is delivered on time and with the most value.

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