Reining in the Unstoppable Idea Machine: How to Control Scope in the Face of Constant Revisions

Parag is a project manager with more than eight years of experience managing complex multi-country and multi-year projects involving remote teams and numerous stakeholders.

The biggest risk in any project is scope creep--not just because of its impact on the project success, but also because of the very high probability of it appearing. Its name says everything: It’s called scope creep, not scope shift or scope blast.

Most often it creeps into the project stealthily like a night thief. Sometimes it comes in the guise of wrong interpretations of scope items, and sometimes it seeks refuge with the business team and its requests to accommodate the client. Especially in large projects with multiple stakeholders, a momentary lapse in the diligent vigilance can cascade into major scope issues.

With many stakeholders come many personalities--the leader, the follower, the collaborator, the grumpy, the happy and others. Sometimes you meet a stakeholder whose interest is in the failure of the project. And handling such stakeholders involves everything from negotiation to threat of escalation to contract enforcement.

But often there is a stakeholder who is good-natured and genuinely dedicated to the success of the project. And yet without any malicious intent, this stakeholder becomes the lynchpin that can unravel the entire project: Meet the Unstoppable Idea Machine.

This stakeholder is full of ideas about how to make the product/project better. And although this participation is very helpful during the requirements gathering and …

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