I have been teaching this year as part of the Mohawk College and CARA Research Administration Certificate program. In a discussion, I was asked by students to describe the opposite of scope creep. As I've been presenting it, scope creep means small, incremental, and uncontrolled additions to scope - these become scope change when they are recognized and accepted into the project, with the corresponding changes to time, cost, and quality to accommodate the increased scope.
So what do we call it when scope gets smaller?
I like the term "scope seep" to apply to small, incremental, and uncontrolled changes that are reductions in scope, such as if a scope element is missed or reduced without consideration for time, cost, and quality. These could be steps that are skipped in the mistaken belief that the project will "save" time or cost. These scope seeps could similarly result in a change in scope, if the missed element is not added back in and the change in time, cost and quality are similarly determined and accepted. Seep can also result in re-work if the missed elements must be added back in, thereby incurring cost and time.
Like creeps, seeps can happen when we have overlooked something in project planning or we are missing some controls in our projects. Perhaps our checklist for progress reporting is incomplete. Maybe there is a stakeholder expectation that lacks clarity. Or perhaps we just plain old missed something in our planning, scheduling, or budgeting.
Also like creeps, when a seep is recognized it is important to press 'pause' and evaluate whether the seep can be accepted as a scope change or should the project rewind a bit and complete the missed item. If the project can truly do without that item, then it will be improved by leaving it out. If the task is necessary for the work, then some replanning is needed to reincorporate that task and get the project back on track for success.
Creeps and seeps can happen in any project, large or small. Project management must be active and ongoing throughout the project to help capture and correct the small changes before they become big problems. Good planning with appropriate controls are therefore essential to project success.
Who is Robyn?
My career as a research project manager is rewarding, dynamic, challenging, and fun. I'm looking forward to sharing my knowledge and experience in communication, organization, and common sense approaches in research management and leadership, and to enabling others to learn and grow in this exciting career.