Avoiding Automation Project Scope Creep
Your company has decided to approve your manufacturing automation project. This is fantastic news, right?
Now, you find yourself responsible for defining the Scope of Work (SOW). What’s the big deal? It is critical to provide a detailed and specific definition of the project scope. Everyone involved should understand the requirements and boundaries of the automation project. Why?
Projects, in general, are complicated. There are many moving parts and paths to consider. Automation projects add complexity in many ways. You should always begin with a process review. Then, define the project SOW from the discoveries found during the review. You must consider resources, timing, cost (budget), milestones and deliverables. Also, each project has its own personality that you must think about.
For your best chance at a successful outcome, your project needs to run like a well-oiled machine. Unexpected events, no matter the size, can up-end a solid project. An area of risk that can have a large impact on your results is scope creep.
So how do you avoid scope creep in your automation project?
Let’s start with an example of how this can happen.
You are managing an internal automation project. You gather the team members together to discuss the project scope. The excited team wants to focus on the project details. Instead, their current job responsibilities distract them from the task at hand.
You do the best you can and ask questions to ensure that nothing gets missed. You get quotes for your automation components and approval to order parts. You place the order and receive the product as it arrives. The implementation start date gets closer. You get an urgent email from the engineering and quality group. The team asks if the data collection plan includes a required critical customer characteristic. This need was not discussed in the planning meetings. The equipment you ordered will not meet the customer need. Now, you have scope creep that will add cost and delays to your project. And this is only one example.
We have 5 recommendations for avoiding scope creep.
- You must educate yourself completely on the internal and external process requirements.
- You should ask questions until you believe you have gathered all stakeholder expectations.
- You should understand the outcomes expected from the presented business case.
- You must know the primary reason for the manufacturing automation implementation.
- You must completely document the scope of work. Get signatures of all project stakeholders. All changes need documentation and approval.
Each automation project can have specific challenges that need addressed. The five recommendations above are essential to avoiding scope creep. Communication, documentation and understanding expectations will support a smooth-running project.
Do you need a partner to help you define your project’s SOW? Reach out to an experienced consultant that will help you avoid costly scope creep. Contact KM Shinn Consulting to assist you and your organization in scope definition. We want to provide clarity and value.