May 15, 2023
Scope Creep in Mobile App Development
Imagine a scenario when a client discusses a mobile application project scope with the development team. The process is initiated by the development team, all phases are completed easily. The client is happy with the final product or service. Now read the first word again.
Yes, you are imagining or daydreaming if you are expecting the above outcome of the situation. As a project manager, it’s important to remember that no matter how thoroughly you’ve covered the scope of a project, there will always be something that the client wants done differently.
When a client requests changes, it’s important to listen carefully and assess whether the changes are feasible within the project timeline and budget. If they are, make sure to communicate any potential impacts on the project schedule or budget. If they’re not feasible, explain why and offer alternative solutions that may meet their needs.
Causes of scope creep in mobile app development and solutions
You cannot build a building until the foundation is strong; similarly, without a clear definition of the project scope, it can be difficult to determine what is within the boundaries of the project and what is not. This can lead to additional work being added to the project that was not originally planned for, resulting in delays, increased costs, and decreased quality.
Define the goals, objectives, deliverables, and boundaries of the project.
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”
The organization’s goal should be to define the project scope and prioritize changes based on their importance and impact on the user experience.
Example: If a mobile app development project’s goal is to include only five core features, the organization should resist the temptation to add additional features or functionalities throughout the development process.
It is important to establish precise objectives at the beginning of the project and ensure that all stakeholders are aware of them.
Example: If a company wants to develop a mobile app for its e-commerce business, the objectives could include increasing sales, improving customer engagement, and enhancing the user experience.
Deliverables can make or break the success of your project. It should be clearly defined and aligned with your goals. This includes identifying the features and functionalities that will be included in the app, as well as any design elements or branding requirements.
Example: To create a mobile game app, the deliverables may include high-quality graphics, engaging gameplay mechanics, and compatibility with multiple devices and platforms.
Setting boundaries is essential. It’s important to be flexible and open to change when necessary, but also firm in enforcing the agreed-upon boundaries.
Example: If a client wants to add a new feature to the mobile app that was not included in the initial scope, the development team could agree to either add it as a future enhancement or require additional funding and timeline extensions to implement it within the current project.
Despite our best efforts, unforeseen circumstances will always cause scope creep, and modifications to mobile app development are inevitable. It is critical to acknowledge this reality and approach risk management with a flexible mind.
We cannot predict an exact solution to the problem, but we can come close enough to resolve the problem that is hindering the accomplishment of our project.
Example: A software development team can plan for delays due to unexpected bugs by allocating extra time, running testing, and having a troubleshooting plan. However, if an unforeseen circumstance arises, such as a team member falling ill, they must adapt their plans and come up with contingency solutions.
One of the main reasons for scope creep is frequent change requests by clients that can lead to a variety of negative consequences, including missed deadlines, increased costs, and decreased quality of the final product. There is no proper measure on how to entertain such changes and in what quantity at a time changes should be made.
Initiate changes workflow to avoid scope creep in mobile app development. Here are steps to follow to avoid scope creep when handling change requests;
Document change requests: Stakeholders should document change requests using a standardized form, which should include details such as the reason for the change, the impact on the project timeline, and any additional costs.
Prioritize change requests: prioritize recommendations based on their urgency and potential impact on the project’s timeline, budget, and resources.
Obtain approval & Monitor changes: Seek approval from the project team or stakeholders for any approved change requests. Monitor the progress of the project and keep track of any changes that have been approved.
Limit saying “yes”
The inability to say no is a major contributing factor to scope creep in mobile app development. It is important for organizations to establish clear boundaries and communicate effectively with clients to prevent unnecessary feature additions and changes that can lead to project delays and increased costs.
Use 50 shades of saying ‘NO’
Saying directly ‘NO’ falls like a hammer on a client’s dignity. Frame your responses carefully. Be careful with the words you choose. Be euphemistic as and when necessary. So, even if you intend to say no it does not damage the client’s goodwill with your business.
Example: “Thank you for taking the time and effort to share with us.” Unfortunately, we won’t be able to execute this right away because the process has already begun, but you can still be optimistic for the future…”
However, some clients may have legitimate reasons for requesting additional features or changes, and it is important for organizations to consider these requests to ensure client satisfaction and a successful end product.
Get closer than ever to your customers. So close, in fact, that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.” – Steve Jobs (founder of Apple)
Lack of stakeholder involvement
Lack of stakeholder involvement is the main reason for scope creep in projects. It leads to delays, increased costs, and a final product that does not meet the needs of all parties involved. Vision and mission get lost, and employees are unable to fill the blind spots.
“Good business leaders create a vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion”.
After entrepreneurs, stakeholders are like superheroes. They face countless challenges and obstacles on their journey, but they never give up. They keep the fire burning and seek solutions through continuous improvement of their services by bringing everyone together. Their solutions go beyond addressing their clients’ needs. Here are a few suggestions that can aid communication in various ways;
- Create a strategy that specifies how and when members will communicate with stakeholders throughout the project’s longevity.
- Create a stakeholder engagement matrix to identify and engage stakeholders.
- Involve stakeholders early in the planning phase of the project so they have a clear understanding of what is achievable within budget constraints.
- Set aside time for regular follow-ups and meetings to evaluate and maintain progress.
Only two things are infinite: the universe and the client’s expectations.
No matter how much effort you put into delivering high-quality products or services, there will always be someone who wants more. Overpromising may lead to disappointment and a loss of trust in the long run.
It is essential, to be honest, and realistic with clients about delivery. By setting realistic expectations and delivering on them, you can build a strong reputation and a loyal customer base. It is better to under-promise and over-deliver.
Example: In mobile app development, you can add some amazing features and release it when the client least expects it, this will gain faith and strengthen relationships with clients. They’ll feel that their project is in safe hands.
“The purpose of a business is to create a client who creates clients.”
There are a lot more causes resulting in the scope creep of mobile development apart from what is listed above, and it concludes that
Even if an organization takes measures to minimize scope creep, it is inevitable at times. Thus, the best practice is to be prepared and keep the above causes as well as solutions in mind. Always have a backup plan in place to prevent losing time and resources. Prepare ahead of time, adapt to conditions, and discover the best solutions in a short span of time.
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