Taming Scope Creep in Insurance Software Implementations
Congratulations! You’re a leading insurer who has secured a trusted solutions provider for a new multi-year software implementation. And you, the chosen solutions provider, are eager to facilitate a transformation that results in a core system with seamless automation and an intuitive user experience for a robust, next-generation platform.
But you, the insurer, are realizing that more features are necessary for the exact system you envision. These additional requests may potentially enlarge the project’s size, complexity, and timeline. Slight deviations from the project roadmap may be acceptable, but when asks start to steamroll, how can both sides collaborate to manage scope creep while staying on time and on budget?
Subduing the Scope Creep Beast
To keep scope creep at bay, solution providers and insurers alike require discipline, collaboration, and a constant focus on real user needs. Changes to the project plan aren’t necessarily bad, especially as today’s popular project management strategies, like agile and hybrid waterfalls, are flexible and allow for last-minute pivots. But scope creep must be controlled to ensure it does not have a negative impact on the project’s long-term outcome. Some best practices include:
- Start off with blueprint requirements, which clearly articulate functionality and specific priorities. Scope creep may occur due to added features, funding, resources, or personnel needed to complete the project, so it’s best to start with agreed-on deliverables with a well-defined budget, goals, and timeline.
- Designate the decisionmakers. To avoid having too many proverbial cooks in the kitchen, clearly define the project lead, who can and cannot approve scope change requests, who is to be consulted on change requests, and who must only be informed of them. Standard RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed) matrixes will help keep everyone clear about who’s who and what roles they play.
- When additional system functions and desires start to build, examine the potential impacts on the budget and timeline. See what asks can be prioritized and/or compromised based on “must have” and “nice to have” concepts with an understanding of the business case to support the additional scope feature.
The Change Control Solution
When scope creep escalates, it doesn’t have to completely derail a project. Using a change control plan, a document that outlines the steps a project team will take to identify and act on a scope change request, can help get a project back on solid footing. It should include sections that outline how change requests will be submitted, how they will be evaluated, cutoff points for submitting change requests, and applicable fees.
The change control plan can help sort out what requirements are important and which should be discarded if scope creep is getting out of hand. It can also provide tools—such as a final decision-maker, a list of fees, and a change control board—to lean on when indecision threatens to make scope creep worse.
Very often, scope creep is inevitable in a complex software implementation, so a scope change control plan along with the project blueprint is key. Clearly communicating these plans to all stakeholders is critical, as well as sharing the idea of what success will look like at the end of the project and eventual rollout.
The Final Word
Insurance software implementations have their own set of specific challenges, with scope creep a common hurdle. Investing the time and collaborative efforts into successfully managing—and overcoming—scope creep is an investment in overall project success, where the insurer, solutions provider, and most importantly, the project itself, comes out a winner.
 “Scope Creep: Definition, Examples & How To Prevent It,” Forbes Advisor, August 2022