Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Scope Creep... Managing 'small' creep(s)

I read an interesting article on managing scope creep today. As I'm more involved in project management than I care to admit, I found it interesting.

Use these techniques to control small scope change requests

Scope creep is a term used to refer to the 'little' changes to the scope of a project once the project specification has been written and agreed upon, and after work has started.

Often it's these 'little' changes that unless they're properly managed will cause the project to get off track and start to code 'yellow' to indicate it's not on course. Most of us include a little slack in our timeframes to allow for a certain amount of these inevitable changes, however, sometimes enough of these 'creep' in that they exceed even the built in slack.

This short article did a nice job of illustrating a few ways to regain control and get the project back on track.

I'll write more on this in the future as I can not recall a project I've ever been involved with that did not require some adjustment as it progressed. Usually as a result of the sponsor (customer) identifying some 'small' items that had been left out of the original specifications, and they now feel can't be lived without.

Feel free to share your scope change horror story!!


Braleigh said...

I have never not fallen victim to the "scope creep"...unless you count my braces coming off 8 months earlier than anticipated. We just had hardwood florrs installed in our house. We were promised 3 days. It took 22.

Braleigh said...

Where ever have you disappeared to?

Bill said...

I'm here... well now.. been busy with other items of late... I'll be posting shortly! :)

Firehawk said...


I came to your blog by way of Braleigh, so hello, and you can give her the praise/blame if you like/dislike my comment.

Scope creep sounds a lot like a military phenomenon called "Mission Creep". From my understanding of it, this happens when forces begin to formulate their own secondary and tertiary goals beyond the stated mission. Such as: "Well, we've conquered most of Korea, why don't we push up into China and get a bit of a strategic cushion."

Scope creep, as you call it, is so common in any creative endeavor. I know I've never written a book that turned out the length I initially imagined it to be. Some of it is incomplete or loose planning, other times, well, you just get wrapped up in what you're doing, and there goes the timeline/space constraint...

I can certainly see how it would bloat and complicate coding, though I'm a total layman at that. Good post. I'll visit again.

Bill said...

Hi firehawk, and thanks for stopping by! I guess Scope creep and Mission creep are similar in that in both cases the additional work is not nearly as well planned as the original effort.

It's this lack of planning that almost always leads to a failure down the line.

My kind of creep is certainly a lot less 'dangerous' in that it's rare a programmer dies from scope creep... mission creep can have serious mortality problems!