Scope creep can be a killer. Adding features to a work in progress almost always causes trouble. At its simplest, the extra work delays the delivery of the current phase of a project and increases cost. Subtler effects include a gradual degradation of the quality of a project. Changing requirements contribute to a shifting of the bedrock of a project. The basics are never nailed down for long enough for the development team to make headway, and project management is always trying to catch up with the new list of features and deliverables.
So what do we do about scope creep at Singing Horse Studio LLP? Our Agile process takes care of it for us. The project management team captures the new requirement and simply adds it to the product backlog. The product backlog is the long list of features that could and / or will be included in the project. The development team is able to keep their heads down developing, safe in the knowledge that the content of the current sprint will not change. The customer gets their deliverable on time and at maximum quality.
What happens to the new feature we just added to the backlog? Nine times out of ten, the new feature is addressed in the next sprint. And since sprints at Singing Horse Studio LLP are between three and ten working days long, the wait isn’t too long. And the other one time out of ten? At the start of the new sprint, when we sit with the customer and prioritise the backlog to agree what to work on next, the customer chooses other features over the new requirement. Sprint planning is an exercise in comparing all the available features to decide what the customer would most like next. Sometimes that new feature just doesn’t seem as important when considered against all the other great feature ideas sitting in the backlog.
Working on and delivering software in short sprints means that we can respond to our customers’ changing needs and new features without the loss of control that scope creep introduces. Regularly assessing the backlog at the start of each sprint means the customer gets to choose what is most important and relevant — including all the great ideas the most recent demonstration inspired in them — but the team delivering your project can always give their best, as they have a clear and unchanging picture of what is in the current sprint.