Keep ‘scope creep’ from derailing your project

stressed businessmanOne of the biggest project management pitfalls is the tendency of the work to expand over time, otherwise known as “scope creep.” Here are six rules to prevent the pain and problems of scope creep:

  1. Agree on the scope, plan the details. Your project should be tightly structured, carefully budgeted and scrupulously planned before your work begins. Build in time for unexpected snags along the way.
  2. Analyze existing processes. Assess each function you are working on. Define each stakeholder group’s role in your existing process. Understand what you have and how it works so you can get to where you want to be.
  3. Be realistic, manage expectations. Guard against setting your expectations that are unrealistically high. Don’t start a project by promising an unrealistic rate of return before you’ve researched the possible outcomes.
  4. Keep your team happy. Clear vision and goals are keys to a healthy work environment. Reward good work, and be generous with positive feedback. Staff satisfaction is critical to your project’s success.
  5. Communicate your progress, and finish on time. Keep your plan up-to-date, recording actual-versus-planned progress. Identify any deviations from the plan, and fix issues quickly. If you’ve maintained your schedule yet allowed for unexpected delays, you will still meet your deadline.
  6. Finish under or on budget. If you’re over budget on some items, go under budget on others. Balancing overruns is the essence of cost control.