Apr 27 2022

How to Avoid ‘Scope Creep’ on IT Projects

It’s common for digital transformation plans to become unwieldy when expectations aren’t tightly managed.

IT projects can quickly grow out of scope. Here’s how to avoid that.

1. What Is Scope Creep?

When IT projects grow and become difficult (or impossible) to manage, it’s often a result of scope creep — and it’s a major cause of digital transformation failure. Scope creep happens when a project’s scale, features and requirements are not properly controlled and documented. The project quickly spirals beyond the IT team’s capacity.

2. What Is an Example of Scope Creep?

Several years ago, a big government agency spent $1 billion to try to replace 240 legacy computer systems with a single integrated enterprise resource planning system. The scope of the project was too large, and it was restructured several times before the agency determined there wasn’t a sufficient way to make the project succeed.

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3. How Does Scope Creep Cause Projects To Fail?

While some businesses may be “too big to fail,” some technology projects can be too big to succeed. Overly ambitious projects typically have too many moving parts, making it impossible to set reasonable metrics for success. Rather than trying to meet impossibly high expectations, CIOs should ensure projects can be managed in small, incremental steps.

4. How Can Organizations Avoid Scope Creep?

Best practices for project management are key. These include clearly defining project deliverables, identifying decision-makers in advance and maintaining open communication with all stakeholders. Most of the communication should be facilitated by the project manager, who must stay on top of changes during the project lifecycle.

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5. What Are The Keys To IT Project Management Success?

Start with transparency: When everyone is on the same page, a project can stay on track and the team can meet its objectives. Setting the right priorities for a project and analyzing changes as work progresses are also important. IT leaders should consider the impact changes will have on the overall project. However, the project scope shouldn’t be altered at the slightest change.

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