When it comes to controlling scope creep, your biggest concern should be the people furthest away from the project: dept heads and directors, company leaders. Even consultants and board members. These behind-the-scenes stakeholders have more power and influence to derail your project than the team and even your client POC. They also like to do it at the absolute worst moment 🤣
It’s incredibly difficult to see the change these stakeholders cause coming down the pike, but if you prepare for it you can lessen the impact it has on production.
First off is mental preparation. You must always be ready and willing to free yourself from execution. To go off-plan and find a different path. When change happens, take off your project manager hat and put your strategy hat on instead. Start by reconfirming your goals and painting a fresh picture of the end-game to refocus everybody, then switch to asking questions instead of striving to answer them:
- What about this is good for us?
- What about it is bad?
- Could we accommodate the good? How?
- How might we shut the bad stuff down?
The second type of prep is logistical. Chances are the silent stakeholders know nothing about your project or what you are trying to do, which is what makes it so easy to demand things that are really disruptive — there are no apparent consequences. By onboarding them into the project, you can make consequences explicit and make it harder for them to derail your work.
One simple method is to produce a project onboarding document that you and your client can share with the senior ranks containing the project details and — this is the important bit — how you both agreed up-front to manage project change.
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