Thursday, June 7, 2012

Scope Creep Example

This assignment was particularly difficult for me since I have no experience with project management that relates. So, instead I interviewed a friend who has worked in project management a great deal.
Prior to her current role, Elisia worked as an internal auditor for General Electric (she was employed by GE to audit GE). As an auditor, she would be assigned, with a team, to one of the GE businesses and spend four months on site working on a project. On multiple assignments Elisia experienced the hairy monster professionally referred to as scope creep.  One specific example that stands out was when she was on a corporate HQ assignment. The project was related to the roll-out of a newly updated financial accounting standard for variable interest entities (VIE). The original scope of the project was to develop and disseminate companywide training on the technical changes and implications of the new accounting standard. However, as the project progressed the scope creep monster reared its ugly head. By the end of the four months, the project had increased to include a second key deliverable – to determine the entire population of VIEs that would be affected by this new standard.
Looking back, Elisia realizes that the second deliverable was equally, if not more, work intensive than the first. The scope creep was more like a scope jump. Thinking about how this could have happened, Elisia realizes now that there were two key factors working against her audit team. First, when the clients were conceptualizing and determining project scope, they themselves were unsure of what it should be. Therefore when the projects original scope was presented to the team, it was, to some degree, only a half-baked idea at that point. Second, is the fact that they were internal auditors. In this particular audit, the clients were extremely powerful within GE and had the network and influence to control our project. Said another way, there was not a clear line and definition of roles and responsibilities between the team and the client. This “blur” carried over to all aspects of the project, including work scope.
Though the team eventually was able to meet both deliverables of the project, it took a lot of extra time, work and resources to complete. Additionally, the relationship between all the key stakeholders (audit team, direct clients and indirect clients), was constantly strained. The issues that this project faced were largely driven by scope creep. What Elisia took away from this experience, is the knowledge that once you realize scope creep is occurring, it’s already too late to stop. Scope creep is something that must be proactively prevented. The project team must make clear to the client that scope creep also has a detrimental effect on them – the client could be spending more money, deadlines might not be met, and they might not have the most appropriately resourced project team. Additionally, the project team needs to be involved as early in the planning phases as their client will allow - the project team and clients must work together define the project scope in writing and in detail, being sure to outline what is included, what is not included the key deliverables and the project timeline.


  1. We Cannot Avoid Scope Creep
    The project became so complex by adding the second deliverable, I wonder if the communication was good and if a new document (change of scope document) was established to determine the scope creep (Stolovitch, n.d.). As the project does develop, new ideas do creep up and problems do arise and must be resolved. It is good that the project did finally come to an end and everything was resolved. In talking with Elisia, I wonder if she thought there was wasted time because of the scope creep and if it may have taken less time if the scope creep was addressed when it started. Avoiding scope creep is impossible, but it can be controlled and monitoring reducing the problems associated with it (Portny, 2008).

    Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

    Stolovitch, H. (n.d.). Monitoring Projects. Laureate Education, Inc. Retrieved from

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  3. “Scope creep is inevitable with projects, but a change control system can lessen its stressful aspects.” (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, & Sutton, 2008). Even though we want everything to go as originally planned, sometimes we have to be flexible enough to deal with changes along the way. How we handle changes will be determined by the successful completion of the project. Every experience we get from one project will help us to handle the next project better or differently. However, we also have to be open enough to know that with change in the scope, it is likely that there will be changes in budget, schedule, time and even task.


    Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.