Communicating Scope Change Impact

Here' s your chance to illustrate the effects of scope creep, and the reason why you' l l be glad you kept good change-management records. Let ' s suppose you have a sponsor who doesn' t understand the need for change management. You've turned down request after request by customers because they were not a part of the original requirements definition process and do not contribute to the production of the project ' s stated deliverables. And time after time, the customers have simply turned to the sponsor, who overruled you and authorized the changes. You' re understandably pretty frustrated at this point, and probably questioning whether you have any power as PM for this project.

Durthermore, you can t request a new sponsor, because the project is specific to the area of the company that she ' s in charge of and utilizes IT people who are specialists in the systems her area utilizes. Finding another sponsor would be a fruitless endeavor in this situation, even if you could justify the need to upper management. Project stakeholders seem to side with her on most issues.

So what do you do? First of all, recall that the sponsor, by definition, is the one who is empowered to authorize the usage of resources required to accomplish this project. So maybe she knows something about the project budget you don' t. (Not!) OK, so she' s just really good at making sure her staff gets what they need (she says "need," you say "want").

Anyway, you' ve been diligently keeping track of all of these requests and now have a very good record of exactly how much the changes have impacted the project ' s scope, both in terms of its budget and its schedule. You have both the change requests and their subsequent denials, as well as the cost and duration figures for the changes once you were forced to implement them. The budget and schedule variances, while not earth-shattering, are substantial enough that you think people should see the concrete evidence of what scope creep is doing to your project.

The next thing you should do is present this material, either at the next stakeholders meeting or in a specially called meeting that includes all stakeholders and the sponsor (because some stakeholders may not routinely show up for regular stakeholder ' s meetings, and you want to make sure everyone hears the same message). You offer the details of what has been happening to the group. Hopefully, this reality check will set in to people s minds, and you ll be instructed to not allow any more changes to the project unless they' re absolutely required—and that at your discretion.

It' s important to run significant changes by the stakeholders and sponsor and obtain their review and approval prior to implementing the change. Scope creep often happens because the changes are so minute that they may not need to be seen by managers. The sheer volume of these changes adds up to produce an impact on the project' s scope.

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