Project Scope Creep and Project Portfolio Impact

PM Links - Project Management - Project Scope Creep and Project Portfolio Impact(PM Links OpPap (Opinion Paper) / Blog)
Topic: Project Management – Project Scope Creep and Project Portfolio Impact
Author: Michael C. Davis, PMP (PMLinks.com)
July 2nd, 2016

As any project manager knows, project scope is the foundation of a project.  It is the ‘expected result’ at the end of a project and the basis for the specifics (project requirements) that should be defined before determining the how (project work).  Project Scope creep haunts every project and management of that scope creep is crucial in order to accomplish a successful project.  This should always be managed using a process of project scope change control.

Throughout my experience in the field of project management, organizations seem to miss, ignore or aren’t aware of the impact that the portfolio of projects can have on the individual projects and their scopes.  How the project portfolio is managed or mismanaged can be more detrimental to a project than scope creep within the projects themselves.  Activation or deactivation of projects should always consider how it could impact all other projects within the portfolio.  The mismanagement of a project portfolio can at a minimum impact the triple constraint of one or all of the individual projects.  Ultimately, this can cause scope creep across the portfolio.

Prior to activation or deactivation of projects in a project portfolio, organizations should consider the impacts to any related project resources, schedules and budgets.  Predetermined questions should be defined for project portfolio management.  There are common questions that can apply to any organization but specific questions may apply based on the organization’s industry as well.

Before activating projects in a portfolio, some questions to consider may include:

  • Does this project align to any other project in the portfolio?
  • Does this project overload the resources currently assigned to other projects in the portfolio?
  • Can this project benefit or cause impacts to scope of other projects in the portfolio?
  • Is this project duplicating work already underway by other projects within the portfolio?
  • Should the project be delayed or prioritized ahead of other projects within the portfolio to avoid conflicts?

Other questions should be considered to help avoid pushing the individual projects into unexpected scope creep.

It’s always a good idea to have a pipeline assessment process and / or committee for project portfolio management to asks these questions for impact assessments, ranking and prioritization.  This can help avoid making a project manager’s job even more complex.

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