The challenge for new project managers is to balance the benefits of changing scope with the impacts on the schedule and budget. Many new PMs think that changes to scope = scope creep. This is not quite correct, the definition of scope creep is unmanaged change.

What do you see happening?

As the project proceeds through to execution, you will start to receive requests to make changes. This happens often because people can’t think through the complexities until some progress has been made. The changes can be simple modifications to existing scope or can be adding significant changes that will increase the timeline and budget.

Feature creep

The key step is to assess the value of the change against the costs. When you do that, you are preparing the information that the decision maker needs to make an informed decision; informed being the key word. Many times during projects, decisions need to be revisited and sometimes they need to be reversed. What you are aiming for is sufficient information to make the best decision at that point in time.

The process is linear:

  1. Analyze the change
  2. Identify options and the decision maker
  3. Make a recommendation to the decision maker
  4. Implement the approved solution
  5. Document

How can you resolve it beyond treating symptoms?

This is a normal part of project management, so there are no overriding techniques to solve the problem of change requests. The problem is not that people are asking for change, the problem comes when it’s not managed.

A final thought:

It’s very easy to fall into the hole of scope creep. Sometimes it starts with a change that seems minimal. Taking the time to document a few points of analysis and options will save you from the opening the door to changes.

PMs think of it in terms of building/renovating a house. If you ask your contractor to add a few more electrical outlets in the kitchen, he will let you know how much it will cost and how long it will delay the finish. It’s up to you to decide whether the benefit is worth the cost.

Perry Wilson Picture Over the last 30 years of people and project management, Perry Wilson, PMP has a track record of delivering successful projects. Along with four merger projects, she have implemented project management methodology in two Project Management Offices, working with certified project managers and people new to project management. In gaining that experience, Perry learned some key steps to successful implementation of tools.

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