In our software development process, the Scope process of a project is the collection of requirements and features that define what needs to be done to complete the project… but what is scope creep? Scope creep is the tendency for those requirements or features to grow during the project. A single deliverable can turn into three, your needs or priorities can change, or the software that initially started out with five main features now must have twelve.
So… Scope Creep is Bad?
To be more accurate, scope creep is very common, but it isn’t necessarily bad. The scope process shows that, as a client, you are engaged with the project and thinking about the future needs and possibilities. This almost always happens as development gets going and parts of the software are being reviewed. It usually takes the form of “Hey, now that I see this, you know what else would be great?” or “Oh, now that we are walking through this, it reminds me that we also need…” These are natural parts of the process that we anticipate and are ready to manage.
Uncontrolled scope creep is bad. If left unchecked, scope creep will result in project delays, missed deadlines, increased costs, or bloated software that is difficult to use. That’s where the Project Manager (PM) comes in. The PM will work with these ideas and requests as they come up, evaluate the impact on the project, and determine the best way forward.
How To Manage and Prevent Scope Creep
We love new ideas during the development process! Our experience helps us to anticipate and plan for a certain amount of scope creep. That’s why we follow an Agile method of development. It allows us to be flexible and pivot according to the needs of the project. When new ideas or features come up, the Project Manager determines if they can be implemented without drastically affecting the current software development scope. If so, we make the adjustment and keep on truckin’.
Sometimes requests have too big of an impact on the project. In these cases, we discuss the options with you and determine the best outcome. One of our main tools for these situations is what we refer to as the Parking Lot. This is a list we keep of all the great ideas that come up during development which are too far outside the scope of work to implement in the current version. We record the request and any details about it so that it can be revisited after the current version is completed. These “future features” can then be reviewed to determine their necessity and priority in the next version of your software. Then a new scope and development proposal can be provided based on these priorities.
It is not uncommon for the Parking Lot list to grow throughout the development of your software. It’s just one of the great ways we make sure we don’t lose any of those ideas and features, while keeping your project on track, on time and on budget.
Keep checking back for more tips, truths and insights into our development process!