A Brief Discussion About ‘Scope Creep’
‘Scope creep.’ Aptly named, it makes your skin crawl a little even just thinking about it. While scope creep is a concept that is forefront in the minds of corporate professionals such as project managers, it also is a problem met by small business owners, self-employed freelancers, stay-at-home moms, and can even reach into your personal life.
In this article, we will briefly define and explore some questions about the concept of scope creep and how it can affect you and your business.
1. What is scope creep?
Even if you’ve never defined it, you’ve very likely felt scope creep before. This term refers to the uncontrolled and/or continuous growth or changes to the overall scope of a project after the project’s initiation.
Scope creep and inevitable change are essentially two sides of the same coin. Change occurring during the course of any project, as with life, is inevitable and can (and should) therefore be accounted for in the planning stages of any project. Scope creep, however, is the accumulation of a myriad of changes to a plan that has a significant, unaccounted-for effect on the deadline, budget, and resources required for a project that ‘sneaks up on you’ and derails progress.
2. How does scope creep affect you and your project?
Scope creep has a very tangible impact on your project. It can cause delays in production or deadlines, going over an agreed-upon budget, and a depletion of resources. Not only that, but it can actually cause the incompletion of a project altogether.
In addition to tangible project impacts, scope creep can also have an emotional impact on you personally as well. Experiencing scope creep will leave you feeling overwhelmed, stretched thin, burnt-out, resentful, and taken advantage of.
3. How does scope creep happen?
The concept of scope creep can happen to anyone with a project needing to be completed, and can be caused by many factors such as:
- Poor planning
- Unclear scope of project at the outset
- Conflicting project visions
- Unagreed-upon additional demands from a client outside of the original project scope
- Poor time management
- Not addressing changes or issues proactively
- Not properly involving clients and stakeholders throughout the process
- Not negotiating new requests
- Not agreeing ahead of time on how to handle inevitable change
- And so much more…
Scope creep is an increasingly common challenge to navigate for freelancers running an online business, and can often begin with good intentions. To stand out as a freelancer, one often needs to “over-deliver” to acquire and retain new clients. However, the line between what is considered over-delivering and what is considered scope-creeping is very thin, and the difference essentially comes down to how the extra work makes you feel.
4. How do you prevent scope creep?
If you are a professional corporate project planner, there are many specific document-based strategies you can implement to prevent scope creep. However, to avoid the traps that the general concept of scope creep set, one must employ excellence in time management, planning ahead for change, managing change when it occurs, communicating with your team and stakeholders, and setting and guarding professional project boundaries.