Understanding "Project Scope" Vs "Hope" Vs "Effort" Vs "Feature Creep"

In project management, the term scope can refer to Scope of the Project or Scope of the Product. Project Scope is work oriented whereas Product Scope is functionality oriented. Project scope is generally defined as “The work that needs to be accomplished to deliver a product, service or result with the specified features and functions”.

Scope creep is a term used to denote uncontrolled modifications in the project’s scope. It is used to denote the inclusion and introduction of requirements to the project that may not have been defined initially and which does not make amends to adjust the schedule or budget planned. There are two types of Scope Creep. First is termed as Business Scope Creep and the second termed as Technology/Features Scope Creep.


Business Scope Creep occurs when scope changes are decided by stakeholders to meet the requirements of business which may be a consequence of poor planning earlier or because of not proper communication with the users of the project. Technology scope creep occurs when the scope creep is initiated by technology team for change in technology features.


Here Customer-pleasing scope creep is used to denote the additional features brought in to keep customers happy and which leads to extra work. Gold-Plating scope creep occurs when the technology team enhances the original requirement due to an interest in technical perfectionism or because the initial requirements did not possess enough clarity.


Whatever may be the type of scope creep introduced in a project, Scope creep management is an important activity as part of effective project management. Projects require adherence to strict deadlines and a sudden or unapproved change may create confusion and cost overrun in cost and schedule. For this reason, project managers must be fully aware of the project scope and keep it under control.


One of the effective tools to control Project scope is by use of Functional Point Analysis (FPA). FPA gives a measure of the extent of the application or change to an application. When there is an anticipated change in scope, FPA can provide a measurement of the functions being adapted with respect to the size of the scope for the complete project. It thus helps Project Managers to analyze the impact and effectively communicate the changes in the project schedule, cost and quality to the requestor.


Hope Creep occurs when a team member in a project gets behind schedule, hopes to get back on schedule in the near future and reports falsely that he or she is on schedule to the project manager or during status report meetings. Hope Creep misleads project managers into thinking that the allocated work is on schedule. Hence the project manager can keep this under control by occasionally verifying the accuracy of the status reports.


Effort Creep occurs when a team member does not make progress in proportion to the effort he or she puts into the project. The project continues to be incomplete irrespective of the effort being put in by the resources.


One way in which a project manager can handle effort creep is to have a status meeting with the concerned resources frequently and try and investigate the factors influencing it. By introducing creative or innovative methods to resolve problems that hinder progress and bringing the project to a successful conclusion the team can cause a termination on effort creep.


Feature Creep is caused by the desire to impress the customer by providing extra features in the product and which was not indicated earlier in the requirements. It is instigated by the provider of the service rather than the client. The change caused by this may extend the basic features of a product and may result in unnecessary complication.


It may also be uncalled for as the customer or end user may not wish to have the extra fittings. The correct procedure is as follows; a team member wishing to incorporate add on features should get the consent through formal change management methodologies before proceeding.


Dealing with Scope/Hope/ Effort/Feature creep can be challenging for any project manager as he already has his schedule and budget approved and deadlines committed. A change in the scope of a project can cause change in focus and affect team’s morale.


To avoid these confusions a project manager who has clearly and accurately documented all the details of a project is in a better position to take a firm stand. Project managers must carefully decide based on the situation whether a new budget or timeline is necessary to accompany changes in scope or to go with the original schedule and budget enforcing the original/changed scope.

| An Introduction to Earned Value Management | A Note on Construction Project Management | An Overview of the Contribution of Sharepoint Project Management | Distinguishing between Project Scope/Hope/Effort/Feature Creep | Introduction to Open Workbench | Project Management Audit – Modus Operandi | The Critical Chain Project Management as presented by Goldratt |


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