423 M1 CASE 6
Planning for Information systems is crucial for the success ofcompanies and organizations. A good plan should describe the contentand structure of the information system and its development. Due tothe complexity of information resources, planning is vital tosuccess. The fundamentals of IT system planning have to laid outclearly for positive results to be achieved. According to Ram (2009),MIS strategic plan should be based on the organization’s strategicplan. Despite planning and putting all IT fundamentals in place, manygood plans for rational and systematic projects is Scope creep.
The problem of scope creep
Scope creep is the unplanned expansion in the size of a projectoriginating from several sources and usually leading to projectfailure when handled poorly. The development of an IT system is alife cycle that is created, tested, implemented or sold and will gothrough enhancement periods (Gurlen, 2003). During the enhancementperiod, the project can go through a decline, replacement ortermination to achieve the best results. The implementation processis performed in a planned project as efforts are put in place to meetthe project objectives. Most organizations follow a projectmethodology to execute project goals that act as standard processesof approaching a project.
Defining the project scope usually is the first step in many projectmethodologies. The scope describes parameters of what is included orexcluded in a project. As the IT project progresses the scope becomesmore refined but remains within the first defined parameters. Ifthrough the project evolution the direction of the project changesand goes beyond the initial parameters, a change in the projectsscope occurs. Scope changes make the project larger or smaller andcan affect the project timeline and budget. Those changes arereferred to as scope creep.
Causes of scope creep
According to Gurlen (2003), several reasons cause scope creep. Poorrequirement analysis that involves customers not always knowing whatthey want and can only provide vague ideas is one major reason. Mostcustomers suffer from ‘I will know when I see’ syndrome. Anotherreason is failing to involve users as early as possible. Assumingthat you know what the users want or need is a mistake that happensoften. There is a need to involve users in the design phases andrequirement analysis to avoid future problems (Baker& Greer, 2011). Underestimating the project’scomplexity leads to scope creep. Most projects are new in theindustry, meaning that nobody knows what to expect. As a result,there are few lessons learnt and no one to ask. Scope creep alsohappens if there is lack of control. To avoid scope creep designing aprocess to manage these changes is important. A simple process suchas document, consider, approve and resource can be implemented. Thepractice of exceeding the scope of a project to add value to it isanother cause of scope creep. The process is referred to as goldplating results to changes that inevitably consume time, budget andare not a guarantee to increase customer satisfaction.
Managing scope creep in IT can be a daunting challenge argues Baker& Greer, (2011). The project scope is fluid and as theproject develops, it morphs. If allowed to get out of control howeverit can become disastrous. According to Gurlen (2003), more reasonsfor scope creeping have been revealed as poor communication betweenparties, poor change control, weak project managers, being aperfectionist, improper initial identification of what is required tobring out objectives of the project, disingenuous customers withdetermined value for free policy and agile software development thatis based on subjective quantifications. The potential effects ofscope creep are increased costs, which can go up to four times theinitial development cost. This cost includes deferred benefits andlowered investment returns, increased costs of maintenance andadditional loss expected in case the project is cancelled. Scopecreep does not only affect IT projects but all types of projectincluding architecture and construction. The concepts drawn from ITcan be applied to other fields.
Scope creep can be acceptable
Elsewhere, scope creep can be acceptable in certain circumstances.The IT team works with a client to gather requirements in a processthat involves meetings, interviews and questionnaires, Though attimes the final product may result to customer dissatisfaction, atleast it gives the customer an opportunity to go through the naturalprocess in determining what they want. Because of the interactivework on the project and scope creep clients can get what they reallywant as the end product. The process of going through interactionswith clients to change scope helps refine the final product. It alsofacilitates delivery of excellent results and project success. Scopecreep is a good thing here as it defines the goal of rework as a wayof saving the best for the last. Scope change for companies isespecially useful as it creates growth and gives the organization newroom for ideas to expand (Vandermitt,2011). Consulting companies for instance benefit from scopechange as new opportunities for additional services happens duringthis process. As a result, additional revenue from provision ofadditional services increases and is a very good thing. Statistics onfailed software projects eventually become successful. According toGurlen (2003), statistics revealed that 20% of all corporate softwareprojects in the past half a decade had been successful.
Best practices for minimizing project scope creep
Scope creep is something preventable. One of the best practices forminimizing scope creep is sticking to the original goals and notallowing changes in scope. Preventing any scope creep is quietdifficult and a task that is almost impossible. Project managers workhard to reduce the extent of scope creep but cannot totally avoid it.However, defining the requirements as thoroughly as possible can go along way in avoiding scope creep. Utilizing techniques such as jointapplication development sessions and prototyping can help to exploretechnical requirements that will prevent scope creep. According to(Vandermitt, 2011),techniques to minimize scope creep include early involvement ofclients in the project, making the project a joint effort betweenbusiness units and IT. Working on the project in phases will alsohelp minimize later changes and reduce scope creep.
In conclusion, once the causes of scope creep are identified,measures to control and manage it become crucial. From myperspective, though scope creep can be good there is a need toprevent it in order to avoid the challenges that come with it.Managing scope creep is possible through setting achievable goals,prioritizing requirements and involving the users or clients moreduring the early stages. This will save organizations costs and timewasted having to redo the projects.
Baker, A., & Greer, M. (2011).Best practices for minimizing project scope creep focus. Retrieved from http://michaelgreer.biz/BP-project-scope-creep.pdf.
Gurlen, S. (2003). Scope Creep, Morgantown, Retrieved from http://www.umsl.edu/~sauterv/analysis/6840_f03_papers/gurlen/
Ram, D. S. (2009). Informationsystem plan, July,Slideshare, Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/engineerrd/information-system-plan-1747661#btnNext
Vandermitt, C. (2011). Managingscope creep in project management. The Project Management Hut.Retrieved fromhttp://www.pmhut.com/managing-scope-creep-in-project- management.