June 15, 2011

ERP Project - Key Success Factor 8: Scope Creep Management

Scope creep always discomforts the project managers, as business requirements continue to change with respect to the organization business needs, changes in industry & technology and things gained during the development process. Scope - planning, definition, authentication, control - are all the processes that are defined to avoid the scope creep.

Organization should set its business objectives & scope at the start of the ERP project. These goals are to be reviewed for a clear definition & understanding of the business value, the ERP implementation intended to deliver. This would be the benchmark for all the decisions made during the ERP implementation. ERP project road map has to be framed to meet the present & future business objectives of the organization.

It is very tempting to get caught up in the “wish list” (business requirements) of the organization, which might not deliver the intended business value from the ERP project. So it is critical to prioritize the business requirements & goals and implement the ERP accordingly.

The project team should clearly document the critical business processes, keep the focus on them during the ERP implementation project. This can be further broken down into measurable success factors & strategic business accomplishments that would drive the intended results. Today, ERP applications are granular, so that we can implement those functionality / modules, which would immediately meet the organization critical needs. We can then implement the other functionality / modules to manage the less critical needs in priority order.

The project scope defined initially would be a high-level scope. During the project requirement gathering phase, the scope would be defined further in detail. This would be agreed between the customer & vendor and the blue print would be defined including the gap-fit & customization details.

Subsequently, the stakeholders might change their mind on certain business processes, requirements etc., This would impact the project and most often increases the scope, timeline & cost. A proper change request mechanism should be in place to manage this. If the stakeholders are allowed to increase the business requirements frequently, then the scope creep would increase in a big way. Then the project would not be delivered on time & within budget. Any such change would require a formal approval from the project’s steering committee and the project plan including the scope, timeline & cost should be revised accordingly.

Reasons for scope creep to occur include:
  • In-complete documentation of the initial project scope
  • Not having the right project team to determine the actual business requirements
  • No expectation management set between the customer & implementation vendor
  • Lack of change request system
  • Bad communication among project stakeholders
  • Less project control by the project manager
  • Customer used for "freebies" and doesn’t value the project scope / effort / timeline
  • Project Stakeholders having conflicting interest on the project

Ways to manage the scope creep include:
  • Cordial relationship & manage expectation among the stakeholders till the project completion
  • Good initial scoping & planning
  • Get the right project team from the start to determine the actual business requirements (present & future)
  • Firm agreement with the project management structure
  • Proper project requirement documentation with customer acceptance including prioritization
  • Firm compliance to the Change Request System
Scope Management is, one of the most important management tasks a project manager must do. Scope control by applying firm change control system and not accepting any changes to occur in the project without executive acceptance are crucial. Every attempt to make seemingly "small" scope changes, should be avoided unless it is business critical. This would help the project manager to keep the control of the project. However, even the best of the project managers would have at least 5-10% scope creep on their projects. So the project manager should have the necessary skills to work with all the stakeholders to successfully manage the scope creep at the desired levels. At the same time, the project manager has to ensure that he is not looked at by the stakeholders as rigid or bully.


  1. You are right that business requirements continue to change with respect to the organization business needs, changes in industry & technology and things gained during the development process and this is most annoying thing that we face.
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  2. I know that everyone whole-heartedly agrees that having a well-defined ERP implementation scope statement is strategic to success. However, there are few articles or other resources that provide detailed guidance on building scope statements. I would like to focus on one key area that is typically not clearly articulated for ERP implementations.


  3. Nice Blog !!!
    It looks like you spend a large amount of time and effort in writing the blog. I am appreciating your effort.
    Scope of erp is vast as it integrates all the business processes of different departments and functions across a company onto a single computer system that can serve particular needs of the different departments.
    Thanks for sharing such a nice post...