Project Manager Tips: Dealing With Scope Creep


This Article was Reviewed by The Chief Editor, Godfrey

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Project management is an exceptionally precise process; it’s essential for project managers to handle every step with absolute care and attention to detail. As a result, mistakes and seemingly minor errors can go undetected if managers are not on the ball and on the lookout for common project management mistakes. Without careful attention to detail, it’s unlikely that project schedules will run on time.

Typical project management mistakes don’t just put project results in jeopardy; these errors can also put your reputation as a project manager in jeopardy. So, it’s essential to rule out as many risks as possible.

Among these mistakes are assignment mishaps, scarce resources, micro-management habits, lousy communication, and a lack of clear objectives. And when it comes to project objectives, project managers need to be wary of scope creep.

With that said, whether you’re trying to get a hold of these fundamental project management hiccups to further your career and eventually seek out a senior executive position, or apply for a project management position at a higher-paying company, understanding scope creep is fundamental for both project managers and senior executives.

Nevertheless, when the time comes to use resume writers for senior executives, fully grasping the fundamentals is critical to your job search. Even enhancing your presentation skills as a project manager can help you enhance your career.

Nevertheless, let’s take a deeper look at what scope creep is and how to successfully eliminate this particular concern.


What Is Scope Creep?

Scope creep explains an instance that stems from a lack of clear project objectives; when the goals are not clearly outlined, managers and team members find themselves slipping in additional details and features after the project schedule has already started. Unfortunately, even though these extra details are typically essential to the outcome of the project, scope creep creates confusion for team members and can often set professionals off the path.

Ideally, project managers need to avoid scope creep because it can significantly undermine the success of a project. Instead of the team being able to follow a clearly defined project scope, scope creep changes can lead to projects running over budget or over schedule, all while creating a certain level of confusion for the team. A lot can go wrong when scope creep is present in project management.

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But what causes scope creep?

A lack of clarity, poorly defined planning, customers trying to get more value for money, and allowing direct and unmanaged communication between clients and team members are all common causes of scope creep. Moreover, starting projects before clearly outlining the objective of the project is another prominent cause.

Even though completely eliminating scope creep is challenging and sometimes impossible for project managers, a suitable project management model can help significantly reduce the risks of scope creep occurring.

Avoiding The Pitfalls Scope Creep Creates

The most effective way to avoid scope creep from jeopardizing project results is to implement the waterfall methodology technique. This project management technique is a process that runs similarly to a waterfall through each phase of a project. With this method, each step is entirely completed before moving on to the next stage, from analysis and design to testing and everything in between.

Because the majority of research and preparation will be done ahead of time, project phases run smoothly with this project management model; estimations for time requirements for each stage are far more accurate. As a result, project release dates are almost always more predictable. Additionally, this method also prevents projects from running over budget in the same way. 

Unlike the agile project management technique, the waterfall methodology technique is far less prone to scope creep because it’s trickier to shift direction when focusing on a single phase instead of the whole project. Fortunately, additional features and details won’t emerge after the project has already started because these will be identified during the extra preparation and planning steps.

Implementing Waterfall Methodology Model

Because the waterfall methodology model is the most effective in reducing instances of scope creep, you might be wondering how you can implement the model.

Using a sequential or linear approach to managing each phase of the project, project managers must first scope and plan the project. Next, gathering and accurately documenting requirements is essential. Design application comes next, and then the development of the application and testing follows. Thereafter, it’s necessary to perform a UAT and fix the application accordingly. Finally, you can deploy the application or finalize the project.

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With this, project managers must handle one phase at a time, being careful not to move on to the next stage before ultimately finishing the current one.

A few advantages of this project management model are that requirements and project objectives are established early in the process. Moreover, it also enhances the utilization of resources because tasks are split up and managed sequentially. Team members also gain a transparent understanding of the project scope, and the status of the project is often measured more accurately and efficiently right from the start.

Even so, there are some relevant downfalls of this project management approach as well. Primarily, it can be tricky to lay out and define requirements and objectives early on in the project. This approach also requires a lot of attention to detail and a thorough breakdown of all tasks and deliverables. Lastly, there is still a risk that projects can run overtime or be over budget.

But fortunately, the relevant risks of this project management model can be eliminated through careful implementation.

Other Ways To Avoid Scope Creep

The waterfall methodology technique is not the only way to avoid instances of scope creep; having a clearly defined objective right from the get-go and creating a backup plan are effective solutions to reduce this risk successfully.

Moreover, strengthen communication within the team, host an informative kick-off meeting, and know when to say no to additional instructions that alter the original objective. Even if you’re experiencing challenges with a difficult client who is after value for money, it’s crucial to know when you must say no to changes and alterations.

Lastly, offering additional instruction options is another effective way to eliminate scope creep risks within project management. Create a plan that can accommodate some changes along the way. By creating a plan to accommodate changes, you’ll be able to handle instances of scope creep with fewer negative impacts.

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With clear project outlines and defined goals, you can also eliminate scope creep risks from agile project management models. So, assess your current management model and look for ways to improve on your existing action plan if you don’t want to make a change to the waterfall methodology model.

The Bottom Line

As a project manager, it’s up to you to keep projects running as smoothly as possible to deliver the best results. And while common management mistakes like scope creep can be tricky to eliminate entirely, it’s essential to make active efforts to reduce these and other relevant risks.

Consult your team and consider the waterfall methodology approach to managing your next project. Once everyone in the team is on board with the new management model, discuss the precise steps of the sequential process to ensure all team members understand.

That said, be sure to avoid falling into micro-managing habits when welcoming this new project management approach. Micro-managing has its own set of downfalls. And when considering that this management style is fast becoming recognized as one of the most toxic and ineffective, it’s crucial to trust your team members and their abilities.


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About the Chief Editor

Godfrey Ogbo, the Chief Editor and CEO of AtlanticRide, merges his environmental management expertise with extensive business experience, including in real estate. With a master's degree and a knack for engaging writing, he adeptly covers complex growth and business topics. His analytical approach and business insights enrich the blog, making it a go-to source for readers seeking thoughtful and informed content.

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