Scope Creep- the silent deadline killer (with bonus podcast!)

By Daniel O'Leary posted 01-27-2011 14:19


Hate reading? Listen to the podcast that accompanies this:

The new year has been kind to my team. We have been fortunate to earn a number of new customers in the past month or so, including one of the country's most prestigious universities and a major energy resources company. As we are implementing these projects and working with their organizations, I thought it worthwhile to share with you some of my observations on scoping capture projects and issues surrounding change management. 

Specifically, let's talk about how to avoid scope creep. Sometimes I call it "the creep," but generally it is defined as uncontrollable changes in the scope of a project. With a few strategies, you can avoid "the creep" and roll out an outstanding capture project. Other times, you just crash and burn. So good luck!

  1. Make your project an elephant that needs to be eaten one bite at a time. I regularly kick off meetings with a picture of a giant elephant—and not just because I think they are awesome. When trying to choke down such a monstrous mammal, do you attack it from all sides by throwing expensive tools at it? Do you hire outside help? No, you don't. You take one small bite at a time. One of the best ways to minimize scope creep is to break your project down into distinct steps with dates. For example, by March 1st, we will build five electronic forms and have them integrated into SharePoint. Simple goals produce great results.
  2. Communication! One of my friends told me recently that "projects fail because of people, not because of technology." Having a plan for communication, assigning roles and responsibilities, and finding project champions all helps put the "people" back into large technology projects. All of my customers have my personal phone numbers, know my dog's name and can tell you my favorite color. (It's probably time to turn off the 24-hour Dan Cam though.) I try to learn as much about them as well, because having a great personal relationship is key to fostering a great communication environment for your project.
  3. Have a change management plan. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. (Holy cliche Batman!) All capture projects inevitably have changes and refinement in their scope and purpose. As vendors and customers, you need to allocate time and resources for unknown challenges. I encourage people I work with to add in extra room for items and issues that are unplanned. Like flare-ups of my YouTube addiction.
  4. Listen to your team members. One of my tricks is holding short status meetings with people to show them what we've been up to. People greatly appreciate being kept in the loop and having a change to voice their opinions. Some of the best information you will gather will come from short, informal conversations. If your project team is distributed, consider tools like instant messaging, Twitter, or a service like Campfire to keep people up to date with the project.

So community, do you also loathe "the creep" and eat elephants? What is YOUR story?

#communication #ScanningandCapture #ProjectManagement #e-forms #scopecreep #Capture