Definition, examples and how to prevent it – Forbes Advisor

Preventing scope drift requires a careful management process. Not all scope drifts are bad, but all scope drifts should be closely monitored to ensure they don’t negatively impact project results. To do this, create a work breakdown structure and a Gantt chart of your project requirements. Next, carefully write a scope change management plan. Finally, review and obtain agreement from all stakeholders on these documents and plans.

Here’s a closer look at the steps to avoid scope creep:

1. Outline project requirements and prioritize project tasks

A work breakdown structure (WBS) is a document that takes a large project and breaks it down into manageable chunks or deliverables. Simply put, it documents the scope of the project, its resource allocation, and its deliverables. To facilitate later scope management, deliverables are listed in the order they need to be completed, then prioritized based on resource allocation, and finally assigned work packages with tasks. to accomplish to create each deliverable.

Write your deliverables

To start building your WBS, first list the major milestones you need to accomplish to complete the project. Then, convert each milestone to a deliverable instead of an action: “blog post published” instead of “publish blog post”, for example. The milestones of a sales campaign can be written as follows:

  • Define the campaign audience
  • Write and publish a targeted blog post
  • Write and publish a targeted lead magnet
  • Create an automated, personalized email sequence for lead conversion

Now convert each action into a deliverable, such as:

  • A defined audience
  • A targeted published blog post
  • A targeted published lead magnet
  • An automated and targeted email sequence

Prioritize your deliverables

To prioritize each of these deliverables, mark the time or percentage of resources each will use. For example, if the most important part of your marketing plan is the email sequence that funnels qualified leads into the sales pipeline, you might spend 50% of your time and resources on that deliverable, 20% to your targeted lead magnet, 12% to creating and publishing a targeted blog post, and 8% to defining your audience.

Create deliverable work packages

Finally, write the small tasks that go into creating these deliverables in a separate document (called a “work package”). Link the work package to its corresponding deliverable. For the “a targeted published blog post” deliverable, for example, the work package might say to interview key sources, research keywords to target, create an outline, write the blog post, to finalize the optimization of the article for search engines and, finally, to publish the post.

Create a Visual Work Breakdown Structure

A WBS is more easily consumable if placed in a visual chart. A simple way to do this is to use a Cloth account and many project management software offers WBS templates. To find a template through Canva, simply create a free account, then search for “Work Breakdown Structure” using the search bar labeled “What Will You Design?” Click on your template choice and use the design menu on the left to add your own content.

2. Create a Project Gantt Chart

A Gantt chart is a visual timeline of your project broken down into all of the agreed-upon tasks your team needs to complete to complete the project. This table is essential for managing scope as it clearly shows what the agreed tasks/deliverables are and, by extension, what they are not. It also shows the deadlines your team must meet to complete the project on time. Going beyond these tasks constitutes scope drift.

The beauty of this table is that it is visible and constantly consulted by all team members. With all eyes on this graph, the changes are immediately visible. Any task deviation from this Gantt chart should be treated as a scope change. After all, even a slight change in the end date of a task can mean a delay in the deadline or a change in the budget for the whole project.

Refer to your WBS to plot your project timeline based on individual task start and finish dates, and then, finally, project start and finish dates. Be sure to track not only your deliverables, but also the tasks in the work packages attached to each deliverable. Color code or highlight milestones (deliverables), task priorities, and dependencies (tasks that depend on the completion of other tasks to get started).

Pro Tip: Use project management software to create your Gantt chart. When you do, you can access an intuitive interface to easily create your chart, then adjust settings to clearly notify you of changes to your chart when scope changes occur.

3. Write a change management plan

A change management plan is a document that outlines the steps a team will take to identify and manage a scope change request. It includes sections that describe how change requests will be submitted, the tools used to manage the process, a list of people authorized to implement or deny requests, how change requests will be assessed and then denied or approved, applicable fees and threshold points for submitting change requests.

Answer the following questions to create your scope change management plan:

The roles

The following questions will help you select people to serve on your change management review board:

  • Who is involved in the change management plan?
  • Who can submit change requests?
  • Who will receive them?
  • Who will review them?
  • Who will approve or reject them?
  • Who is not authorized to receive, evaluate and approve or deny requests?
  • Who should serve as a consultant in the evaluation process?
  • Who has the last word in undecided moments?


Answer these questions to develop tools for managing scope change requests:

  • What form will be used to ensure that change requests are consistent and provide all the information needed for the evaluation process?
  • What fees (if any) will be applied to ensure that only necessary change requests are approved?
  • What change tracking log will be kept to record changes and their execution?
  • What checklist will reviewers use to approve or deny an application?

Period settings

Answer these questions to set parameters on your assessment process and ensure efficient processing of scope change requests:

  • How quickly should applications be assessed and then approved or denied?
  • At what point in the project is it too late to request scope changes?

Communication and Collaboration on Scope Change

Explain the communication and collaboration process if scope change requests are approved or denied. To do this, answer these questions:

  • How will approvals or denials be communicated?
  • How will team members work together to implement approved scope changes?
  • How will the communication and collaboration process be made visible at the team level?

4. Get Stakeholder Scope Approval

Present your WBS and Gantt chart to all stakeholders, project sponsors, and/or clients to ensure you have accurately captured project requirements and timelines. Decision-making stakeholders should come together to carefully review these documents and suggest changes, if necessary. Then, once a consensus is reached that the requirements and timeline are complete and satisfactory, everyone should sign and date the document.

5. Review the change management plan with stakeholders

With a signed and dated WPS and Gantt chart, emphasize the importance of sticking to plan while leaving room for the flexibility any project needs to succeed. It is unrealistic to assume that no changes will be made to this finalized project plan. So, at the same stakeholder-wide meeting, present your scope change management plan.

Highlight the consequences of a change request and the process for evaluating change requests and then approving or rejecting them. Communicate that fees are applied so that only necessary change requests are submitted, improving efficiency and ensuring project completion on time, on budget, and of high quality. Explain to stakeholders how to use the change request form and how the assessment checklist and change log will be applied.

6. Train project implementers on the scope change process

Creating a change management plan is only useful if those who need to implement it know how to do it. In a separate internal team meeting, review your plan with team members while outlining who is authorized to approve scope changes. Explain the risks posed by scope changes, including the negative impact on project success. Show them how to remind applicants of the risks of scope changes, the approval process, and your scope change fees.

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