Scope Creep In IT Projects

Scope Creep In IT Projects

Project management best practices are an important part of any information technology project – whether the project is for a private sector business or for public sector initiatives.  While many companies have found great success in using project management practices to insure a project is implemented on time and on budget, there are numerous examples of issues that are still encountered with IT projects.  Regardless of the size of the project, there are issues that can occur, and obstacles to overcome.

One of the most significant challenges to any IT initiative is having appropriate executive level sponsorship.  With business, the IT project manager should insure that there is at least one executive level sponsor who is the champion for the project and will continue to support the project’s efforts.  Without the executive support, a major issue can occur if the project’s decisions regarding design, objectives, team or expenses is questioned.  The executive plays the vital role of “beating the drum” and helping to explain the overall purpose and support for the project.

A skilled project manager is very important during an IT implementation.  The project manager acts as a gatekeeper to insure the right resources and data is provided for the project.  The project manager also weighs risks and provides methods to mitigate the risks efficiently.  Also the project manager can “speak different languages” – whether that is technical IT specifications, legal contract negotiations, or executive level briefings.  And the project manager must be able to lead and motivate the team in order to complete the project as planned.

Anyone who has been involved in an IT project has probably heard the term “scope creep” at least once.  This issue can occur when users begin to add in other features, or new hardware, or new resources that expand the original scope of the project.  One example is building a website.  If the original design of the website was simply to gather email addresses for marketing campaigns, this would be the initial project scope.  If business managers, marketing consultants, or other stakeholders want to add a blog, or Facebook integration, or a shopping cart, or streaming video, this would be scope creep.  Executive sponsors and project managers must be in lock-step to weigh any scope creep and determine whether it should be permitted.  Factors would include additional costs, overall project benefit, and potential missed deadlines.

IT project implementation can be highly rewarding and highly challenging at the same time.  By having adequate executive level sponsorship, skilled project managers, and careful management of scope creep, virtually any information technology project can be implemented successfully.  The project can meet it’s obligations to functionality along with its commitment to staying on time and on budget.

Does your organization experience a lot of scope creep in IT Projects? Does it happen at various stages in the project? Was the project aligned to the three customers? One could say that not really understanding ones customers is the reason for the scope creep. It could also be said that the requirement gathering stage was not performed effectively. What ever the reason, it shows that you are not aligned to the customer, you did not understand the customer and the customer did not understand what your project was doing. Was the project aligned to the three customers or the sponsor? What was the gap analysis done on the three  customers and the sponsors or something else?

Project management best practices are an important part of any information technology project – whether the project is for a private sector business or for public sector initiatives.  While many companies have found great success in using project management practices to insure a project is implemented on time and on budget, there are numerous examples of issues that are still encountered with IT projects.  Regardless of the size of the project, there are issues that can occur, and obstacles to overcome.

One of the most significant challenges to any IT initiative is having appropriate executive level sponsorship.  With business, the IT project manager should insure that there is at least one executive level sponsor who is the champion for the project and will continue to support the project’s efforts.  Without the executive support, a major issue can occur if the project’s decisions regarding design, objectives, team or expenses is questioned.  The executive plays the vital role of “beating the drum” and helping to explain the overall purpose and support for the project.

A skilled project manager is very important during an IT implementation.  The project manager acts as a gatekeeper to insure the right resources and data is provided for the project.  The project manager also weighs risks and provides methods to mitigate the risks efficiently.  Also the project manager can “speak different languages” – whether that is technical IT specifications, legal contract negotiations, or executive level briefings.  And the project manager must be able to lead and motivate the team in order to complete the project as planned.

Anyone who has been involved in an IT project has probably heard the term “scope creep” at least once.  This issue can occur when users begin to add in other features, or new hardware, or new resources that expand the original scope of the project.  One example is building a website.  If the original design of the website was simply to gather email addresses for marketing campaigns, this would be the initial project scope.  If business managers, marketing consultants, or other stakeholders want to add a blog, or Facebook integration, or a shopping cart, or streaming video, this would be scope creep.  Executive sponsors and project managers must be in lock-step to weigh any scope creep and determine whether it should be permitted.  Factors would include additional costs, overall project benefit, and potential missed deadlines.

IT project implementation can be highly rewarding and highly challenging at the same time.  By having adequate executive level sponsorship, skilled project managers, and careful management of scope creep, virtually any information technology project can be implemented successfully.  The project can meet it’s obligations to functionality along with its commitment to staying on time and on budget.

Does your organization experience a lot of scope creep in IT Projects? Does it happen at various stages in the project? Was the project aligned to the three customers? One could say that not really understanding ones customers is the reason for the scope creep. It could also be said that the requirement gathering stage was not performed effectively. What ever the reason, it shows that you are not aligned to the customer, you did not understand the customer and the customer did not understand what your project was doing. Was the project aligned to the three customers or the sponsor? What was the gap analysis done on the three  customers and the sponsors or something else?

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David Peterson

David G. Peterson is a business consultant and author of Handling the Remedy. He has extensive international experience managing projects and operations for large financial institutions. He has worked in North America, Europe, Middle East and Asia skillfully managing business and technical requirements, core systems enhancement and support, merger and acquisition integration's, business process reengineering, off-shoring and outsourcing.