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How to Get Back on Track After Scope Creep

Scope creep is an undesirable reality. Here's how to get back on track.

May 18, 2021

New client requests and unforeseen complications can slowly but surely extend the scope of any project. 

While it’s essential for project managers to set up projects to avoid scope creep, many uncontrollable factors can drastically affect a project. 

Mandatory changes can pop up, tests can reveal problems, and projects change. 

Unfortunately, this all often leads to scope creep. 

Scope creep is when a project’s scope has increased so massively that it places a considerable strain on the team and project manager. When it creeps into a project, it can make deadlines near impossible and place immense pressure on the team and managers. 

Far too often, it’s brushed under the rug until total project failure. 

Even though you want to prevent scope creep, there are ways to manage it and get the project back on track, even if it does happen. 

Here’s how to best handle scope creep. 

Remain Calm 

Before you can jump into tackling scope creep, you must make sure you are level-headed. Take a moment to calm down and clear your mind. Do not let stress or worry consume you. Your team and clients need you to be thinking logically and clearly. A strong stress reaction will only make the issue worse. 

Communication 

Project managers want to have the project well-run and under control. It’s tempting to conceal the issue of scope creep, but this is not the answer. Instead, it’s vital to communicate with all relevant parties. 

The Team

The team must come together to discuss the issue at hand. Allow different team members to outline their current responsibilities, their concerns, and their time frame. Everyone should be aware of the entire project. Work together to evaluate the current scope of the project and what can be done moving forward. Develop a reasonable plan that is fair to the team. Ensure that everyone understands how the team should address new concerns or changes for the rest of the project. Team members cannot make decisions in a silo. 

Take notes on everything discussed. Following the meeting, organize the information clearly and resend it to your team via a new Statement of Work. This ensures everyone is now on the same page moving forward and is a crucial step. 

The Stakeholder 

After communicating with your team, communicate with the client or stakeholders. Pressure from management, clients, and stakeholders often contributes to scope creep. After talking with your team, you’ll have more clarity to bring to this meeting. 

Bring expectations down to reality. Again, be confident and calm during this conversation. Explain the current scope of the project and the new plan for addressing it. Break down the project elements given the new situation, and discuss how this may affect timelines, budgets, and more. This may require changes to the Service-Level Agreement

Lay the groundwork here for any new changes or requests. Be sure to explain that new expectations from here on out will require consideration and planning. Outline the new process for any changes or additions to the project to avoid the project from expanding more. 

Frequent Check-ins 

Once all parties are aware of the scope creep and new plan, focus on keeping the project on task. Depending on the project, this may mean a quick morning standup every day. Check-in with various team members individually and collectively to see if they need any other resources or have found any other issues that may alter the project scope. Keep check-ins brief, so they do not take away from your team’s work time. For example, if an issue is raised in a team standup that you cannot address quickly, follow up with the relevant party after the group meeting. 

Bring in Backup 

Some projects may require backup to handle them efficiently. Bringing in people from other tasks to help with the project can alleviate some stress and help meet deadlines. Ensure the roles and responsibilities of any people who will help and ensure that it will not disrupt their other projects. 

Monitor Project Progress

Ideally, your team should monitor the progress from the very beginning. However, it’s never too late to start. Use the right toolkit to monitor the project’s progress and tasks. This way, you and your team will see all responsibilities broken down. If anything gets behind, you’ll be notified immediately and can provide the proper support before it gets out of hand. 

Get Extra Help from a Professional 

Depending on the project, calling in extra help may be necessary. Professional project management teams from a professional services organization will help you deliver your project even amid scope creep. Our project management experts at BLM Technologies are here to help you get back on track from scope creep. We offer years of experience and strong communication skills. We’ll jump in and work alongside you and your team to ensure project success. To learn more about our project management services and how we can help, contact us today

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