Project Management

Scope Freeze

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at [email protected] Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

We’ve all been part of those nightmare projects--the ones that never seem to end because scope just expands beyond belief. We put all of that time and effort into getting sign-off on the project scope and then things go pear shaped within a matter of days. It’s a nightmare, and it has to be prevented. But that’s not the same as saying that a project’s scope can never change. Scope freeze can be just as disruptive as scope creep.
What’s wrong with scope freeze?
In very simple terms, scope freeze is an insistence on delivering the scope exactly as signed off at the time that the scope--and by extension the requirements--were approved. It sounds admirable, doesn’t it--one of the cornerstones of the project triangle. However, it doesn’t always reflect reality. These days, companies need to be dynamic, they need to be able to react quickly to a changing environment and be able to take advantage of opportunities before their competitors do. You can’t do that if the scope of your project is frozen.
Too often project managers see change requests as bad things. They require investigation and analysis, they distract the project team from the delivery of the approved functionality and they can play havoc with budgets and timelines. But consider the alternative: Is it better to refuse change requests if it means that what …

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