Does it feel like your ERP implementation has taken on a life of its own? What began as a soundly planned effort has snowballed into a project that’s bigger than you expected and harder to control. Suddenly, you’ve found yourself over-committed, under-prepared and in over your head.
This is the reality of scope creep, and it’s a trap that’s easy to fall into. Between persuasive sales presentations and dazzling software features, the allure of “more” seems to be at every turn.
The good news? Once you know how to manage scope creep, you can get your ERP project team back on track and keep them there. Today, we’re explaining how scope creep works and key ways to avoid it.
What is Scope Creep?
Scope creep works as its name implies. It refers to the slow and subtle increases that occur to your original ERP scope of work throughout the project lifecycle.
Some of the changes, such as software customizations, may be easy to recognize. Other times, the changes are more nuanced and less noticeable. For instance, you might add a few new software features here and there.
Often, ERP scope creep occurs because employees across various functional areas want to be heard. They might feel that their needs weren’t considered during the ERP selection process and the project is moving forward without their input.
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The Impact of Scope Creep
What are the risks of allowing your project to expand beyond your initial expectations?
Well, those expansions come at a cost. They’re usually accompanied by additional product fees and additional work hours.
As your team members scramble to keep up, they can lose sight of their original focus, abandoning the goals that you first set out to achieve. All of this can leave end-users frustrated with both the project and the software behind it, which lowers adoption rates.
5 Tips for Managing Scope Creep
Now that we’ve established what scope creep is and why it could be detrimental to your ERP project, let’s explore a few ways to keep it in check. These preventative steps are critical to the success of your implementation or business transformation.
1. Establish a Strong Project Management Team
You need strong, dedicated leaders to define clear objectives at the very beginning and ensure that every decision made along the way aligns with these goals. As you’re creating your steering committee and project team, be sure to assign someone the role of monitoring the ERP project scope. This way, they can identify the signs of scope expansion early and decide if the expansion is justified.
2. Make a Clear Plan
By creating an ERP project plan along with ERP project governance, you can establish a central point of reference for the duration of your project. Project managers can use these documents to make decisions aligned with your goals, budget and timeline.
Jumping into a project without a roadmap in place can be a recipe for disaster. It’s important to set aside time to determine what you expect to achieve with the new ERP software and the steps you’ll take to get there.
3. Communicate Major Changes
Of course, even the best-laid ERP plans are subject to change. Avoiding scope creep doesn’t mean completely shunning improvements or adjustments to your original scope of work. However, it does mean making those alterations soundly and thoughtfully, rather than impulsively heaping extra work onto your plate.
If the ERP system requires a substantial change, your dedicated scope monitor will communicate that change to project leaders and seek their approval. We recommend following this formal change request process to make sure important stakeholders are in the loop and willing to support any new tasks.
4. Be Transparent with Consultants
If you hire ERP software consultants, it’s imperative that you keep them informed of any intentions to expand scope. The consultants you work with should be experienced in your industry and unique processes, so they can gauge the validity of each proposed scope change.
5. Keep Communication Open
As the ERP project unfolds, it’s critical that stakeholders across functional areas are discussing how each proposed process improvement or technology purchase fits into (or doesn’t fit into) the scope of work. If the new requirements are viable, then you must discuss how they will impact the timeline and budget.
Managing the Kudzu Vine of Scope Creep
Kudzu vine is an invasive species that spreads out over buildings and fields, slowly suffocating all in its path. This is reminiscent of ERP scope creep.
By creating a project plan and project governance, you can ensure that one subtle change after another doesn’t result in a giant expansion of scope. While shiny bells and whistles will undoubtedly beckon, you must keep your business needs top of mind.
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