Scope Creep in Projects: Looking From the Lens of Critical Thinking

Mumbai Chapter

With a doctorate degree in project risk management, and over 20 years of experience in project management and decision support systems, Vanita Bhoola serves as a professor at S.P. Jain Institute of Management & Research (SPJIMR), Mumbai, India. Apart from teaching at SPJIMR across programs, mentoring students, and publishing in leading international journals, she offers tailored courses across different programs at the Institute and customized executive programs in project management based on company research, sector analysis, and the business environment that influences business. She currently heads the Center for Project Management and Management Development Programs at SPJIMR.

“When I took up my new project, the objectives, needs analysis, feasibility study, and steps that were needed to achieve project goals were well planned. However, as the project took off, the scope started changing. This was partly due to the need to keep pace with changing customer demand, and partly due to overlooking the many facets of the project that seemed obvious,” says Khushi, a project manager for a construction project in Mumbai, India.

This is not uncommon; often requirements gathering and analysis are done in a detailed manner during project initiation and planning stages. Subsequently, the project scope goes through revisions, overlooking the impact on budget and schedule overruns. The project manager often procrastinates critical analyses of changed requirements, putting them on the back burner, while being blissfully oblivious of the future repercussions.

It is a VUCA world—volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. Project management is no exception. Customers are more demanding than ever. The rapidly changing business environment often forces customers to change their expectations from deliverables, resulting in project scope creep. The VUCA world has redefined requirements gathering and gap analysis to a dynamic concept. “We often prioritize requirements and plan accordingly, based on the immediate need of the hour. We try …

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