Sat. May 25th, 2024

Many businesses ask the question of how to manage Scope Creep? Nevertheless, this question can be answered better when the question of “what is Scope Creep and how can it be prevented?” is asked. 

Efficient management of projects related to IT can save your business some money and time. Businesses face many hindrances in the project completion process. One such hindrance is Scope Creep. It is undoubtedly the biggest threat that businesses face. As against thinking about how to manage Scope Creep in Agile, it is better to understand how to prevent it. 

What is Scope Creep?

Scope Creep takes place when a customer adds new tasks, provisions or deliverables to a project. Particularly, it happens when a customer adds these things outside an existing work scope. These unexpected inclusions can lead to different issues. Examples include dissatisfaction of customers and increased budgets and timelines. Even financial losses and missed deadlines can happen.

When deliverables are not defined clearly, stakeholders turn out to be unsupportive. Also, they are not involved. In turn, the situation can turn more complex as compared to what was initially thought. When these things happen, projects can get into the risk of Scope Creep. Proper management of project scope plays an essential role in the client-consultant relationship.

How to Prevent Scope Creep?

Have a Clear Scope:

No one can deny the fact that any task begun without clarity cannot go a long way. This is more so important when it comes to projects. If you do not clearly explain the scope at the beginning to your team, it can create issues down the line. So, you should ensure that everyone in the team is aware of the scope of the project. Even when setting the scope, you can get each member of the team involved. In turn, the members can gain a better understanding of what they are delivering.

Outline Priorities for an Iteration:

You should plan regular refinement sessions. During these sessions, the Product Owners should be motivated to arrange backlog items in the order of priority. They should set these priorities based on different factors. Some of these factors include cost, complexity, business value and the readiness of the product or service for development. 

When priority levels are set, there are many advantages. The teams can gain the right understanding of their upcoming workload and they can understand the scope clearly. Also, they will experience efficient Sprint Planning sessions.

Set up Change Control Processes:

Let us consider that you have communicated the Project Scope. Even, you have outlined the priority. But, what will happen when something unexpected happens. What will happen when an important person in the team wants to change something? 

It is not realistic to think that nothing will change. To prevent Scope Creep, you should control change in your project. Otherwise, you should have a change management plan in place. This plan should define the procedures of change control.

Further, it is also crucial to have a risk management plan. In this plan, there should be clear guidelines on how often you will monitor the overall status of your project. By doing this, you can keep away from risks like Scope Creep.

Again getting back to the change control process is straightforward. In this process, when a team member intends to suggest a change, the suggestion should be given only through a change request. Then, it is reviewed before being approved or rejected. If it is approved, it will be incorporated into the project. Things will become easier if your project management software has change management functionality.

Let us consider that you are setting up a change management process for your project. At this stage, you should decide who is going to review and approve the changes suggested by the team members. You can discuss the same at a team meeting or with the sponsor of your project.

Stay Protected Against Gold Plating:

To please, some members of a team tend to over-deliver. This can happen not only in a software development team but can happen in any team engaged in product development. To show themselves superior, some members add unwanted features. Even though it might feel good at the beginning, it can actually play havoc on the overall project scope. In turn, it can contribute to Scope Creep.

Discuss with the Project Team:

It is better to make sure that you bring your project team into the loop regularly to avoid Scope Creep in Agile. This type of meeting will make sure that team members remain comfortable. Here, it is equally important to ensure that the agreed schedule is fine with all members of the team and is realistic. Let us consider that one or two members of the team bring potential issues to the table. When this happens, it is better to add them to your contingency plan. Otherwise, you can also discuss with the stakeholders to find alternative options.

Now, you know the answers to the questions about what Scope Creep is and how it can be prevented. Not just knowing how to avoid Scope Creep, but it is equally important to understand what causes it. Here are some common causes of Scope Creep in Agile:

What Causes Scope Creep?

As discussed earlier, Scope Creep takes place when clients add some changes to the projects at unexpected times. Nevertheless, it can happen due to other reasons as well. Some of these reasons include:

  • A poor understanding of the overall project scope
  • Complexities associated with project implementation. When these are not handled properly, they can lead to Scope Creep
  • When you get user feedback that states that a specific feature should be used or should work differently.
  • Even market conditions might require the inclusion of some new features to your product.

How To Manage Scope Creep?

Now, let us consider that Scope Creep has happened due to one reason or another. Your question will be how to manage Scope Creep. Here are some ideas:

Sprint Goals Defining The Scope for an Interaction:

When they do not have a clear vision of an iteration, teams suffer scope creep. So, in Agile methodology, the suggestion is to escalate high-priority items from the Product Backlog to the Sprint Backlog and the Certified Scrum Product Owner can implement it effortlessly. Then, it is recommended to outline the goals for the spring. To achieve the set goals, teams will be in a position to gain a clear understanding of the work and scope as the time goes.

Engage in Backlog Refinement:

Backlog Refinement is an essential process. Unfortunately, it is neglected in Agile projects. It involves the addition of story points, estimates, priority, context, and requirements to backlog items. This should be done before the backlog items get into the phase of iteration development. Backlog Refinement also encompasses the removal of inappropriate items that do not add value to the product or project anymore. It will help with the alignment of priorities with the framed roadmap. In turn, your team can get back to a healthy scope.

Backlog Refinement helps teams to streamline Sprint Planning. It helps to improve distribution and work breakdown. Not only for managing Scope Creep, but Backlog Refinement will also help with preventing it as well. With controlled flexibility, it makes sure of the appropriate change management process. Here are some effective ways Backlog Refinement will help with the management of Scope Creep in Agile:

  • It helps with clearly outlining the priorities for an iteration
  • It provides sufficient information for high-priority tasks
  • It helps with identifying Sprint Goals that can define the scope of the iteration
  • It will help you see backlogs that keep new requests in better visibility
  • Evaluation of new requests at the time of refinement

Evaluating New Requests At The Time of Refinement:

Before bringing new changes into effect, any additional feature or work requests should go through the requirement and cost analysis. This is important to prevent investing unnecessary energy, money, and time into a feature that does not add any value to the product. Once it is identified as a valuable addition to the product, it can be assigned a high priority level. Then, it can be groomed accordingly and can be motivated for development in the forthcoming sprint.

Maintain Transparency:

As soon as Scope Creep is recognized in a project, you should take quick steps. Do not hide it from stakeholders and the project team. To get the project back on track, the co-operation of everybody in your organization and particularly your team is important. To motivate others to get back on track, transparency is important. 

Conclusion:

Now, you know how to manage Scope Creep in Agile. Nevertheless, prevention is always better than correction. So, you should follow the tips given above for your question of how to avoid Scope Creep. The right moves discussed above will help you get through this tough hindrance with ease. You can ensure that your project will march forward to success. Enroll for a CSPO Certification in Singapore

By Manali