Scope monitoring and control is about protecting the project scope from change, and when change does happen, managing those changes. ‘Scope creep’ is a common project management term that refers to activities that are undertaken within a project that were never part of the original plan. Scope creep is dangerous to a project because the extra activities take up the use of valuable resources, and as a result the project schedule and budget maybe impacted. Thus, the original scope of the project may not be completed. Project activities should be reviewed regularly to ensure alignment with the original project plan/objectives.
Keeping the previous point in mind, it is also recognized that within a research project many uncertainties can exist in regards to project direction. For example, the original plan of a research project maybe to investigate a certain set of objectives, however once initial research has been carried out it may become evident that additional objectives/activities are required. The takeaway message here is that given the inherent uncertainties that can exist in carrying out the scope of a research project, quick identification of relevant activities that are outside the original project scope is required. Then, just as was done during your project planning, these activities will have to be estimated for resources, scheduled, and budgeted. Based on scope, schedule, and budget implications of incorporating the additional activities, a decision has to be made regarding its inclusion. Often times the addition of extra activities means that another portion on the scope cannot be done. Based on the nature of the funding, you may also need to receive the sponsor and/or institutional approval in advance of implementing such changes. If approved, the project plan must be updated to reflect the changes. It is also important to note that a change in the project scope may require approval from an ethics board.
Overall, monitoring and controlling scope is not intended to restrict a researcher’s ability to redirect project activities towards research of greater scientific or commercial impact. Monitoring and controlling project scope is about fostering positive scope change, while preventing negative scope creep.