Child Support Software a Victim of Scope Creep

In March 2003, the United Kingdom’s Child Support Agency (CSA) started using their new £456 million ($860 million) software system for receiving and disbursing child support payments.

However, by the end of 2004 only about 12 percent of all applications had received payments, and even those took about three times longer than normal to process.

Child Support Agency

Child Support Software a Victim of Scope Creep

CSA thus threatened to scrap the entire system and withhold £1 million ($2 million) per month in service payments to the software vendor.

The problem was thought to be due to both scope creep and the lack of a risk management strategy. The vendor claimed that the project was disrupted constantly by CSA’s 2500 change quests, while CSA maintained there were only 50, but the contract did not include a scope management plan to help define what constituted a scope change request.

And the lack of a risk management strategy resulted in no contingency or fallback plans in case of trouble, so when project delays surfaced and inadequate training became apparent, there was no way to recover.

Source: Project Management Institute. “Lack of Support,” PM Network, January. 2005, p. 1.

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