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We often receive last minute requests from the business asking for an extra feature to be implemented. The project manager is usually responsible for filtering out these requests as "must haves" or "nice to have", but there are cases where the business wants to squeeze all these features into a release. Is there a good way to say NO to the business? What steps can be taken to stop or minimize scope creep?

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How do you manage scope creep? With a truncheon and a surly disposition. –  BlairHippo Sep 1 '10 at 20:33
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4 Answers

Ask them what they want you to drop so you'll have the time to squeeze this latest request in.

I've not had to do this for a while, and when I did, I used it sparingly otherwise it loses it's potency.

I found it most effective towards the end of the phase when you were tidying stuff up or doing the little improvements and tweaks you'd agreed on in the planning stage.

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+1; making sure they understand that this request has consequences (consequences they get to share!) is fundamentally the way to go. –  BlairHippo Sep 1 '10 at 20:34
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Establish a change request process before the project begins. Say something to the effect of "Here's what we're going to deliver. If you want something else added, you can write it down, submit it, then we'll figure out how much it'll cost you, and you can decide whether you really want it."

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Make sure they understand and expect to be paying you for i) support, ii) additions, and iii) maintenance once you are done the initial work before you start. If they won't agree to it don't do the project.

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What we do is provide a revised due date and cost estimate every time. You add functionality X on Monday and it will take 20 hours and the due date is Friday, then we automatically slip the due date by 20 hours. Once we got to where we did this every time (no exceptions) we stopped getting so many scope creep requests. But you must do it every time, give them a time estimate (and cost estimate if need be) and then tell them what the new deadline will be if we add this feature.

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