Scope Creep: Four Basics for Avoiding It

Scope Creep can make any project of any size get out of hand.

Of all the KPIs monitored within the Life Science industry, scope creep during technology implementations has a tremendous  impact on overall company performance.

Scope creep, also known as requirement or feature creep, refers to uncontrolled changes or continuous expansion in a project’s scope. It’s often inevitable. But, if your project stays within scope, other KPIs such as budget management and team health usually fall into place. However, when the scope of the project creeps ever-so-subtly (or not so subtly) past its intended target dates and expected deliverables, everything else starts to suffer.

There are four basic methods to rein in scope creep: clearly defined goals, communication, being prepared for changes, and (of course) thinking ahead. 

Clearly Defined Goals – 

It is imperative to establish well defined deliverables. During the project definition phase, clearly define the goals, targets, and deliverables. Make sure you communicate to everyone what a completed goal means. More on that in a minute. For each deliverable, define the following: What will happen? When will it finish? Who will complete it? Who will approve it? What will the approval cycle be?

Though whatever system you are using to manage your project can’t actually define your goals for you. It should help you communicate those goals to the right people. Also, it can keep track of how the process is moving towards goal indicators and benchmarks. It should keep everyone on the team on the same page. And, it should also ensure they are working with the same destination in mind.

Your method should also clearly define what needs doing, when is completion, who is responsible, who needs to approve development, and what is the projected production cycle. You should manage and store all this information in a central location. And, you should automate it to keep everyone informed. That leads us to the second way to manage scope creep.


Communication is the cornerstone of good project management, and if your project management system(PMS) doesn’t prioritize communication it is not a good system. Its job is to ensure everyone has been notified and has access to all the information they need to keep the team agile and moving. Team members can easily give status updates, perform reviews, document risks, and work towards an overall resolution. Through the PMS, stakeholders can touch base with all other parties involved in development, involving them in the process. From the top down, every aspect of development has an open and fluid communication platform, and that makes the next thing to manage even easier.

Being prepared for change-

Even on the best projects change is likely to happen. There might be changes to regulations mid-process. Or an unexpected challenge within the team–regardless, change is inevitable. Being unprepared for those changes is what makes scope creep unwieldy. This allows them to spread out of control. With labor-intensive legacy systems, changes in scope can get out of hand very quickly because each aspect of the process has to be individually adapted to the existing system. Any modern cloud-based PMS should be set up to make adjustments quickly and efficiently. Because of this adaptability, changes don’t become overwhelming and time-consuming and affect all other parts of the process. This then allows your team to address the final aspect of scope creep management..

Thinking Ahead-

The best way to avoid major scope creep is by being able to look ahead. Unfortunately, without a good PMS this can be a very challenging thing to do. If your team is too busy putting out unexpected fires and not communicating effectively it can be all but impossible to look ahead for oncoming problems. With cloud-based solutions that augment all aspects of your project management, you have the ability to see farther down the road. 

By not only analyzing collected data but charting the data’s direction, you can see obstacles and hurdles before you reach them. This can help with all aspects of readiness, from MDR for the medical device community to CAPA in pharmaceuticals.

Even though scope creep is occasionally unavoidable, it should never balloon out of control. There are a number of PMS solutions out there which allow you to keep tabs on what has been done, what is about to happen, and what needs to happen in order to make every project succeed. This, as well as many other KPIs, is something that can be easily managed

Avoid Scope Creep with Ready to Use Solutions

Another way you can help avoid scope creep and improve the speed of your implementation is with a pre-configured, ready to use solution. Based on best practices,  these solutions help ensure well defined project parameters and deliverables.  If you want to learn more about how a Ready-To-Use QMS can dramatically shape and improve the speed of your business, download our most recent eBook, The Need for Speed. It takes a dive into how a Ready-To-Use QMS differs from a legacy or paper-based solution.

Best Practices