When you are putting together a plan for a new piece of custom software, it can feel like the sky’s the limit. Web-based solutions can solve many problems facing tech-savvy business owners. But if you shoot the moon, you could quickly find that scope creep has broken your budget and put your release far behind schedule.
What is Scope Creep
“Scope creep” is a concept used by project managers in the software industry when the requirements of a job change over the course of the project.
Some change happens in almost every project. As you and the members of your team get clearer on what you need and what the software can do, you will probably want to adjust the proposal to better suit your goals. Your tech team is usually not a part of your day-to-day operations, so it is easy for the details of tasks and priorities to get lost in translation.
But scope creep goes further than getting clarification on the original goal. Usually, it sounds something like:
- “Can the software do this, too?”
- “But what if we need to change this variable in the future?”
- “What about this exception to our rule?”
- “Can we take this in another direction?”
- “Is it possible to add this feature?”
Why Scope Creep Happens
Scope creep happens when project managers and business owners aren’t completely clear about their needs, or how to meet them. Often what seems like a simple fix to the business owner may require substantially more work for programmers in the background. Other times, seemingly large changes can be accomplished with a simple fix.
Other times, the problem arises when team members and employees get their hands on the prototype. They may have different experiences with the company’s needs than the business owner. That could mean they need different solutions that the owner hadn’t thought of in the original development meetings.
Scope Creep is a Problem for Business Owners
When business owners and staff start to add on features or ask the software to do more than originally intended it can cause the project to cost more and take longer than originally intended. One or two small changes may not impact the bottom line, but the bigger the adjustments, the more likely you will be rolling back your roll-out date.
Software development is something like the construction of a house. There are always development delays. In a house it might be electrical problems or an unexpected sewer line beneath the ground. When it comes to software, those delays could be problems with system integrations or inconsistencies within an existing database. Most experienced contractors and web development teams know how to budget for these delays. They build a cushion into the project budget and timeline to account for the unexpected.
The problem comes in when changing expectations stack on top of these routine delays. When that happens scope creep can eat through the padded budget and put your project on hold while the team scrambles to address your latest rounds of “must haves”.
What to Do to Stay on Schedule, and on Budget
Avoiding scope creep starts with the first development meeting. At Provisio Technology Solutions, we want to be sure you know what you need, and what you’re getting from the very beginning. We will meet with all the key decision-makers – including the staff who will be using the end product – to make sure we understand your needs. Then we will propose solutions in a clear project proposal and guide you in selecting the best option for your budget and your business. We can help you prioritize your needs and understand the effect of changes to your timeline and bottom line.
When changes arise, and they will, we use an agile development model and clear change control process that keeps you in the loop, so you will know how the changes will affect your priorities, and your budget. That way you can make an informed decision about whether this new feature or added function is a necessary part of the project.
At Provisio Technology Solutions, we want to work with you to create a custom business software project that will address your company’s needs. Contact the website consultants at Provisio Technology Solutions today to schedule a meeting.