What to do with a Creep in the Room!
The term Scope Creep is commonly used to identify any change that was not within the original project scope. Keep in mind that this not necessarily a bad thing. Projects by nature are dynamic, and change is typically unavoidable. I’ve had project sponsors say, “There will be no change requests on this project!” They were obviously concerned about the project’s budget and timeline, but it is unrealistic to say that there will be no change on a project. It is important to make the sponsor and project team understand that scope changes/creep can occur due to numerous reasons regardless of the team’s experience, planning, and foresight. To remove the stigma, after project kick-off, document and present a change that does not affect the project scope, timeline, resources, or budget.
With this said there are other types of project creep that are real problems; Hope, Effort, and Feature Creep.
Hope Creep occurs when the project falls behind schedule, and team members or the project manager falsely reports progress while scrambling and hoping to get back on schedule before being discovered! Randomly checking on team progress outside of status report meetings can be an effective way of keeping the team in check.
Effort Creep is when team member’s work is not proportional to the effort expended. They continually report progress but the work never seems to quite make it to 100% complete. Once again random checking of progress and more frequent request for status may help.
Feature Creep is often seen in software development or implementation, and happens when team member(s) add features or functionality that they assume the end user would like, without submitting change request for their approval. While it may seem that this would be a welcome surprise to the sponsor, it could increase the timeline and budget, since the changes will impact overall architecture, in-scope features, acceptance testing, and end user training. It is critical to ensure that all team members are committed to submitting changes through a formal change control process to determine if the proposed change is wanted and approved by the sponsor.