Thursday, August 4, 2016

Scope Creep

            Around 10 years ago I was living and working internationally with refugees who were displaced from a neighboring country. I was helping facilitate language programs for them and also building an internal network for their transition back into society. We had a small group of 10 managing this specific project with various stakeholders involved. While the altruistic goal of service was commendable, the definable objects of the mission were lacking and scope creep began to sink in fast and often with the team I was working with. One of the greatest factors that contributed to scope creep in this situation was a misguided plan. The overarching vision was clear, but definable objects within a realistic timeline lacked. Looking back I can see how the major factor that contributed to scope creep was vague plan. Portny et al., (2008) states that, “the first step toward a successful project is to develop a plan that allows the project team to do the work required to produce the desired results in the available time for the available resources” (p.377). One way that our team should have addressed this issue was through updating the plan as the project progressed. It’s called scope “creep” because it slowly changes the direction of the project before anyone can really notice it. This is why a detailed plan needed to be in place and constant evaluation needs to occur so that addendums can be made. Greer (2010) makes a similar point calling for the project manager and others to “update the project scope statement and overall plan. Make an addendum or a complete revision, if appropriate, of the project schedule, work breakdown structure, scope description, and so on. Make sure you note all of the conditions that led to the change, the people who discussed alternatives, and the people who selected the recommended alternative. Document it—get it in writing” (p.36).
            Another major factor that contributed to scope creep was the aspect that the team didn’t plan for it to happen. Portny et al., (2008) states that, “avoiding scope creep is not possible. However, monitoring it, controlling it, and thereby reducing some of the pain is possible if the project manager follows a few guidelines” (p.347). The best approach is to set up a well-controlled, formal process whereby changes can be introduced and accomplished with as little distress as possible (Portny et al., 2008). The team didn’t define the outcomes so that when the change and scope creep entered the project the group was surprised it was there and didn’t know how to handle it. Every plan that is enforced needs to factor some form of flexibility and change. Portny et al., (2008) states that, “project managers give themselves the greatest chance for success if they confront head-on the possibility that some things might change. They need to prepare at the outset for how to minimize any associated negative consequences and maximize any positive consequences” (p.377).  


Greer, M. (2010). The project management minimalist: Just enough PM to rock your projects! (Laureate custom ed.). Baltimore: Laureate Education, Inc.

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (n.d.). Monitoring projects [Video file]. Retrieved from