Accepting Creepy Projects.

Posted on Fri 26 June 2015
Written by Flexi-Grant

Image by Gratisography.

Written by Keith, MD of Fluent Technology, grant management guru, process engineer, frequent flyer, father of 3, ufology geek and keen cook.

It was all going so well.  The project was running smoothly, every team-member knew their responsibilities. We were on time and to budget.  But then it happened…
Someone suggested a little change.

“Oh, that’d be fine!” we said.  I mean, it’s only a little change after all.  What could it hurt? And then – not so long after – we’re left wondering why we’re running over and how the project has expended more than its share of time and resources than we originally budgeted!?

It’s every project manager’s dilemma – scope creep!  It happens on all projects (or at least all projects I have ever managed).  Though we can try as hard as possible to rid ourselves of it we can’t change the fact that language is a two-way street and nobody is the perfect communicator.

Because what one person (the customers) says can be different from what another (the supplier) hears.

No matter how diligent your requirements-gathering is, there will always be room left for interpretation.  Early warnings come in the form of statements such as “I thought we were getting-”, “Don’t forget we also need…”, “Well obviously we need to…” When dealing with this, a good Project Manager is always aware of the flexible nature of requirements.  However, a great Project Manager is always listening and pre-empting changes to ensure that requirements threatening to mutate into something truly creepy are handled in a timely and efficient way.

If I could offer just one piece of advice on managing Scope Creep it’s to just bite and bullet and plan for it from the outset of your project.  I mean…we know it happens, you know it happens and there’s nothing to be gained from ignoring it!  Implement a solid change-control process at the start of your project and openly discuss what types of change might arise or have popped-up in similar projects and confirm the best way to deal with them before they make themselves known.

Changes – no matter how small – should always be considered very carefully and the impact/benefit of the change understood and set against the effort required before deciding on an appropriate COA.  After all, there’s nothing wrong with embracing change…as long as it is in the right direction.

Accept it.  Plan for it.  Manage it.  Sorted!

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