Scope Creep

Scope creep happens when a project’s requirements change. This can be done when original project requirements aren’t possible but most of the time it’s indecision or lack of experience.

Some changes are nearly irrelevant, such as changing colors or fonts. Other changes could require a complete rebuild. Scope creep negatively impacts projects. Specifically costs increase because already written features must be rewritten. This delays project completion. The changes can often be last minute and rushed, so they often introduce bugs. It also impacts team cohesion because some changes may be known to only part of the team. Scope creep often feeds on itself, so one feature leads to another then another.

To prevent scope creep, start with documentation. Document what the project has to do. Have a feature cut-off date. Any new ideas after that point, just write them down and save them for the next version. There will be times when changes must be made, but limit these. Straighten up lines of communication so if a change is made, it’s sent to everyone involved.

Scope creep is natural for novices. If you lack experience then you’ll go through a cycle of trial and error when designing and building. It will take numerous iterations. On the other hand, an expert can do more in a single iteration than a novice can accomplish in six. Don’t let this dissuade you if you have an idea. Instead, use this to your advantage. Partner with an expert and have him or her help with your idea. An expert can explain what works, what doesn’t and why. If this isn’t possible then choose an agile approach. Just keep in mind that agile also has the same scope creep issues, but it doesn’t impact the time as strongly.

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