Have you been in this situation…
You just began a new LIMS project and everything appears to be going smoothly. However, as the project continues to move forward, you start to lose control and it feels like the project has taken on a life of its own. The stakeholders keep adding extra features and you wonder, don’t they realize that these changes are out of scope from the original user requirements? Or do they think that all the additions and changes are “no big deal”? All you can think about is “We are over the project budget and our deadline is toast”. You feel trapped in this vicious cycle and there’s no clear end in sight!
If so, you’ve experienced Scope Creep.
So what exactly is scope creep? Scope creep is the expansion of a project outside of the planned objectives. Even though nearly every LIMS project will experience it, there are ways to prevent or at least minimize scope creep.
Here are some guidelines that will help prevent scope creep from Day 1 of your project or minimize it if you are already knee-deep in activities:
- Establish the goals
Take control of the scope by meeting with the key stakeholders to understand the goals of the LIMS project. Ensure from those meetings that the project team has a clear vision of what the LIMS project is to accomplish.
- Clearly define your objective.
After understanding the project goals, you should be able to translate them into objectives. The objectives should be as detailed as necessary. Keep in mind if your project is quite large, you want to be very detailed with your objectives.
- Develop requirements & gain approval.
It is essential to develop and document all of your LIMS requirements. Involving all the groups, organizations, and lab personnel in the process is critical to capturing all the needs. Once your requirements have been drafted they should be circulated to the key stakeholders for comments. It can be helpful to gather all the key stakeholders in a room once comments have been received. This will ensure everyone is in agreement and limits the number of times the document will need to be routed for approval. This is also a great time to set some priorities.
- Create a time line.
Group your requirements into major milestones/phases with end dates. It can be difficult to determine the task duration if the staffing for the project is unknown, so leave room for error. It is also critical that the Project Manager has real LIMS implementation experience so that timelines will be more accurate. If this skill set is not available in-house, engaging with a 3rd party consultant with LIMS expertise and experience is highly recommended. The project timeline and task schedule should be documented and approved by the project leaders and key stakeholders.
- Assign Proper Resources.
Once the time line has been determined, you need to staff the project with the appropriate resources. You will need to get buy-in from the project leaders that the staff provided will be able to devote the proper amount of time to the project. Gaps in skillsets can be filled by engaging internal Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), hiring needed expertise externally, or engaging 3rd party SMEs.
- Control Change.
Implement a plan and a process for handling change orders that come up during the project. Ensure all of the key players and team members are educated on the change order process. Having a solid process will allow you to perform a cost-benefit analysis before scheduling changes requested by your project leaders and stakeholders.
Scope creep can be overwhelming and can be detrimental to the success of a LIMS project. If you follow even just a few of the guidelines outlined above, you can avoid or at least minimize scope creep and maintain control of your LIMS project.
How do you feel about scope creep? How have you dealt with scope creep in the past? What have you learned from your experiences with scope creep?