Scope creep is something Steve Hart is familiar with, though he doesn't much like the name. Whenever he hears “scope creep” he thinks “lack of project control”, according to this blog post found on PM Foundations. To help out, Hart's provided 5 tips for helping manage scope creep through monitoring and process, and these five tips can go a long way in mitigating some of the more common reasons that project slip away from schedules and timeframes. Hart begins by explaining how much scope creep affects the entire baseline of a project:
When most people talk about creep it is in the context of scope. In the context of scope, creep is the small features added throughout the project life cycle that in sum total can have a significant impact on cost, time and quality. Creep also relates to other the aspects of the project baseline, time and cost. In the context of time, creep is the deadlines missed by a day or two, or the activities that take a few hours longer than expected. In the context of cost, creep is the consulting rate that is a few dollars / hour higher than budgeted, the consultant that is required a few weeks longer than planned, or the software license costs that are a bit higher than anticipated. Any one of these examples could have an impact on overall project performance (what is delivered, when it is delivered, and how much it costs), and if it is not controlled and managed, it represents creep. If you are only focused on scope creep, you are only managing part of the overall CREEP in your project.
He goes on to explain the importance of a rigorous planning process, recognizing when scope creep can be turned into a change to the original scope (through a clear process of change management), and understanding the impact of change. On the last point concerning the impact of change: it's important that your team, yourself, and your customer all realize how a requested modification to the original scope of a project affects not only the project itself but also the ability to complete other projects. If a customer requests an extra two weeks' worth of work on a project, they must be made aware if that also pushes the start of another project back.