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As you’re going about your workday, meeting with coworkers and/or clients, designing deliverables and looking forward to your lunch break, you feel an eerie presence looming over you. It lurks just out of sight, interfering with projects, disrupting collaboration, exacerbating budgets and forcing you to miss important deadlines. What kind of ghoulish specter has been haunting your workflows? The creature known as Scope Creep.
Scope creep happens when changes to a project are poorly managed or controlled. At the onset of any project, resources like the number of team members, budget and time are allocated, and if the changes to the requirements made cannot be met using the same resources as planned, your risk going over budget or exceeding deadlines, or both. You could also find yourself in the midst of a never-ending project as requirements keep being added and deadlines keep being extended.
By adopting a scope management plan, you’ll be able to map out project scope and better control it. Key to your scope management plan is a methodology for managing review and approval of deliverables.
First, Project Scope
In case you aren’t totally clear on what project scope is, it’s essentially how a project’s goals and objectives are defined. Your project scope lists your goals or objectives for a project (ex: develop messaging for potential product investors), the deliverables you plan to create (ex: a pitch deck), the tasks that need to be completed (ex: discovery with project stakeholders, design phase, etc.), expected timeline (ex: first iteration complete in three weeks), and costs (ex: budgeted 50 hours of work at $60/hour).
Defining scope helps to set boundaries for your project and focus activities. As part of your scope, you can also assign responsibilities for even more clarity and outline processes to be followed to ensure everything is carried out correctly. Still, having a plan is little more than an inspirational vision board without a scope management plan that ensures your scope is properly explained and executed.
A scope management plan requires:
- Organizing an approach to the work that needs to be done
- Orchestrating monitoring processes
- Documenting and tracking changes during approval of deliverables
- A process for auditing deliverables at the conclusion of a project to determine if and where scope creep occurred
Scope Creep During Review and Approval
Speak of the devil, and he shall appear. The area of any project where scope creep is most likely to happen is during review and approval of deliverables. That’s why implementing an approval software that monitors and automates this stage of a deliverable’s lifecycle can be so invaluable in keeping projects on track.
The workflow you follow during review and approval is very important, especially if you have several different approvers or groups of approvers. You need to establish an order in which stakeholders are able to review and provide feedback, and you need to decide if they’ll be reviewing deliverables in isolation or if they have access to others’ comments.
Unless the approval process is very simple, involving only one or two approvers, email is not a reliable channel for facilitating your approval workflow, and even with just a few people, it can be a disjointed process. An approval platform will help you map out your workflows and request feedback from the right people at the right time. You can also set up deadlines for approval and develop a schedule for automated reminders so you get responses in a timely manner.
When you create automated workflows to manage the timeline for review and approval, you allow the system to regulate these important interactions.
Controlling and Monitoring Review
During the review process for deliverables, a lot of competing factors can take a project off course. Without having mechanisms in place to control actions by stakeholders and monitor the process as it unfolds, you run the risk of approvers going rogue and processes being abused.
Approval software will help you manage certain aspects such as:
- Whether or not approvers should be allowed to download files when they’re sent deliverables for review
- Whether approvers need to approve all deliverables at once or if the process can be piecemeal
- Whether approvers will be allowed to see the feedback others have given and respond to this feedback with their own input
- Whether approvers will be given a deadline by which they need to have made a decision about a deliverable
Documenting and Tracking Changes
No matter the project, changes are to be expected. The trick is not allowing these requests to get out of hand. You need a system able to manage and track feedback and changes in an organized way so nothing sneaks past you without being properly assessed and approved.
By centralizing all activities of a project’s review and approval on a platform developed especially for the task, you’ll be able to track everything: all of the files related to a project, revision cycles and new versions of a deliverable, feedback and changes that have been requested at each stage, who has made a decision about a deliverable and who you’re awaiting a response from.
As feedback can be provided in context directly on a proof, it’s much easier to clarify exactly what changes are being requested by approvers, saving countless revision cycles and wasted resources that can derail a project. And, if a requested change does exceed project scope, the issue can be quickly identified and corrected.
Audit and Assess Processes
At the conclusion of a project, it’s important to look back and take stock. How well did the process you employed work in maintaining scope? Did everyone fulfill the responsibilities originally laid out? Were any deadlines missed, and did the timeline have to be adjusted? If scope creep did occur, how was it allowed to happen?
If you’ve been using a proof approval software this whole time, then you only need to look in one place for all the information you need about the project you just completed including an audit timeline detailing emails sent, new versions sent, feedback received, decisions made and more. Easily compare this timeline of activity to your original scope of work to determine if project goals were met, whether all deliverables were received as intended and if the resources originally allotted were sufficient.
Ashore and the Legend of the Ghost Ship
Has Scope Creep been haunting your projects, dooming them to an eternal existence wandering the seas in search of a destination. Come Ashore and finally discover an automated, streamlined process for managing review and approval. Ashore users have seen their proofs approved 50% faster with fewer versions per project. Our automated workflows, contextual commenting, automatic reminders and detailed audit timelines only make the process work that much more seamlessly for you and your approvers.
Mastering your scope management plan is the key to cleansing your projects of evil spirits, and implementing approval software with your team is central to your success. Sign up for a 14-day free trial of Ashore today so see how it works in action.