When your development project begins to shed its earthly coils and reach new heights, it can become problematic for a number of reasons. Scope creep can have a negative effect on your deadline, your budget, and even the attitude and motivation of your team. Here are some tips on controlling scope creep and keeping the project within the bounds you’ve set for it.
1. Understand The Client
Controlling scope creep starts at the very beginning of the project, with your client’s expectations and vision. It’s important to understand these fully before even beginning the project, and making sure the client isn’t going to change their mind halfway through the project.
If you’re working with a new client, it’s best to meet with them in person and discuss the details of the project. It’s difficult to gauge a person’s vision via phone call or email because body language can be so essential to communicating effectively.
You may find that a client emails in a way that seems apathetic, but when you meet in person they’re extremely excited about the project (and their body language shows it). Meeting in person helps build that human connection that will become essential later on in the project when changes are made or suggested.
2. Set Expectations For Your Team
Alongside the client’s expectations will fall your own expectations. As the project manager, it’s your job to make everyone aware of deadlines, budgets, and project details, and suggested edits. Keep the client involved in the process and keep your team updated.
It’s important that your team understands the client’s vision as well. If they’re unsure where a project is going, they may over or under-deliver on it, meaning costly edits and hours of rewriting code or changing site layout.
It’s a good idea to host update meetings or at least request email updates from your team as the project progresses. These updates can then be shared with the client to ensure they know what’s going on and can suggest changes early on in the development process.
3. Know How and When To Say No
If you find that scope creep threatens the deadline or budget of your project, you’ll likely need to say no to the changes that are being made. This can be difficult, especially if it conflicts with the client’s original idea.
Saying no to a client is…precarious, to say the least. This can be an upsetting rejection and may make the client feel like you aren’t meeting their needs. That’s why you’ll need to employ a little tact when you’re declining certain changes.
If a team member or client suggests a change that will change the scope of the project, sit down with them and discuss the details of the suggestion and explain how it affects the scope. With a client, remind them of the budget and time frame, and how the changes may negatively affect those factors of the project.
4. Use A Wireframe
The useful applications of wireframing tools cannot be understated. They’re simply the best way to map out a project and get a good idea of its scope before you really dig into the design process.
A wireframe acts as a sort of blueprint for your website, providing visuals of site architecture, navigation, and placement of elements and pages. This is just a basic representation of the final project and will include no color or fancy fonts, but it’s a great example to show the team or client.
By using a wireframe, you’ll be able to get an idea of the scope of the project before the real coding and designing begins, when it’s much more difficult to go back and make changes. The client will know where the project is headed, and with a visual presentation, it’s much easier to explain the features than it would be over the phone.
5. Use Project Management Software
The web is home to hundreds of team and project management sites, offering you a simple way to get a firm grip on the scope creep of your project. With this easy-to-use and effective software, you’ll be able to set parameters and assign tasks within a single interface.
Each user will have a profile directly linked to a project. From there, you can assign deadlines, and tasks, and hold each user accountable for their own part in the project. Better management means a more streamlined design process, and thus fewer scope creeps.
The team will know right away when certain changes are made, and you can effectively relay expectations right in the interface. If you’ve never used this sort of software, try it out and you’ll see exactly why so many development teams utilize it in their projects.
6. Define Who Is Allowed To Change The Scope
Should the scope of a project begin to change, you want to ensure that not every member of the team can make changes that will affect it. In fact, there should only be a few dedicated team members allowed to make such changes, and all of them should be discussed with the project manager beforehand.
Defining who is permitted to make scope changes will keep the project tight and prevent any over-zealous developers or designers from adding costly extras to the website. Adding flashy features only serve to slow down the project and may be frustrating to the client.