As someone who has been delivering digital projects for 15+ years, I’ve heard quite a number of great reasons from business stakeholders as to why the project scope needs to be increased. Generally requests for new project scope increase closer to the project completion date, because business stakeholders realise they have missed functionality.
Increasing scope at any time during a project once scope is signed off always comes with a level of risk and the safest option to change scope is to extend the timeline. However, business stakeholders generally prefer other options including throwing more money around to increase resources.
When stakeholders are informed the business risk is too high for any new scope and they won’t budge on the launch date, this is where we can occasionally see the rise of the ‘irrational stakeholder’ and where the best reasons are used to try and convince the project team to include new functionality. One of my favourite reasons which I heard early on in my career was ‘The same functionality is on this other site, so it can’t be that hard to implement.’
Once I had to ask my project team in a governance meeting if we could increase scope knowing full well it wasn’t an option. We were close to the end of our second to last sprint for a project which integrates into a larger project of work. The risk was simply too high and it could have delayed the larger project. However, I had to follow a process because business stakeholders were in the meeting and the project team’s response needed to be recorded in the minutes. It just wasn’t the response I was expecting.
So let me set the scene. Ten or so people sitting around a conference table all intently listening to the update from the project manager.
The PM is a character with a very strong Irish accent – an exceptional project manager, finger on the pulse, great attention to detail and our scrum master with no fear of saying how it is and she does not suffer fools. (I’m telling you about the Irish accent because it is important to picture the delivery of the response.)
Me: As you know we have a new project scope change request. What would it take to get this functionality in for the launch date?
PM: A fooking time machine!
Apart from eliciting a wry smile from me, the unorthodox response had the desired response with the entire Project Governance Steering committee as they all realised there will be no further scope discussions and not to attempt any irrational reasoning!
We didn’t record the actual response in the minutes.