Analytics scope creep and why it’s a good thing.

Analytics scope creep and why it’s a good thing.

We’ve all been there: you’re on track to deliver your amazing Analytics project and the business changes their mind. The user acceptance criteria have changed and now you’re going to miss the deadline and go over budget.

And as the Project Manager, you’re responsible. 

What if I was to tell you that this was a good thing?

Scope creep, in the traditional software development world, is often the cause of a failed project but in Analytics is inherently different. The absence of scope creep can actually be an indication that you aren’t meeting the needs of the business. 

The major paradigm shift, in Analytics over the past 5 years, has been the much more prevalent adoption of long promised self-service, made possible by more affordable and feature rich tools like Power BI. The resistance to scope creep in traditional projects and the business-users need for more rapid change has paved the way for these tools. IT departments are no longer the data analytics bottleneck, with business-users being able to bridge more of the gap between Developer and Analyst. 

Business users should be encouraged to ask more questions of their data. It’s helps them do their job. As questions are answered, a deeper understanding drives further questions. This behaviour comes across to IT Departments as “fickle” and frustrating.
Now, putting these feelings aside, what’s the most important thing here?

That the value of data is realised to solve a business problem. 

How can that happen under an inflexible project structure?

How can a person refine their understanding of a business problem and the possibilities with data without going through a number of iterations? 

Allowing scope creep doesn’t necessarily mean a lack of governance, on the contrary it embraces capture and discussion so that there isn’t the equivalent of an “analytics black market” for all the needs that weren’t delivered by the project. 

There’s another side to making this all work though. Business staff need to also embrace a process of “partial delivery” that comes with Agile projects. Businesses also need to think differently about funding analytics projects on a “merits” basis rather than trying to fix a scope and budget in a one-off project. 

Providing a fluid framework for progressive delivery of Analytics is the key to keeping relevant and ensuring value is realised as quickly as possible. 

In summary, don’t miss that opportunity because you’re too afraid of missing that deadline. The financial costs of not responding quickly will rapidly outweigh the benefit of a concrete, solidified project schedule.


Written by:

Ben Oastler - Director North America