Scope Creep (SC)

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Feature Creep, Requirement Creep, Project Creep


What is Scope Creep?

Scope Creep, sometimes referred to as requirement creep or feature creep, is a situation in project management where the project’s scope – the work required to deliver a product – gradually expands beyond its original objectives. This expansion occurs without corresponding increases in resources, schedule, or budget.

Why is Scope Creep Important?

Scope Creep can have serious implications for a project. It can lead to delays, cost overruns, and a decrease in product quality. It can also cause team burnout, as team members may be asked to do more work than initially planned, often without additional resources or time. Understanding and managing Scope Creep is therefore crucial for successful project delivery.

How to Manage Scope Creep?

There are several strategies to manage Scope Creep:

  • Clear definition of project scope: This includes a detailed understanding of what is and isn’t part of the project.
  • Change Control Process: A formal process for handling changes to the project scope can help prevent Scope Creep. This includes documenting, evaluating, and approving or rejecting changes.
  • Communication: Regular communication with stakeholders can help manage expectations and prevent unauthorized changes.
  • Flexibility: In Agile methodologies, some degree of change is expected. The key is to manage these changes effectively.

Usage Examples

1. In a software development project, Scope Creep might occur when new features are continually added to the product without adjusting the project timeline or budget.

2. In a marketing campaign, Scope Creep could happen if the client keeps requesting additional deliverables that were not part of the original agreement.

3. In an event planning scenario, Scope Creep might occur if the client continues to add more guests, change the venue, or request additional services without adjusting the budget or timeline.

Historical Context

The term ‘Scope Creep’ has been used in project management since at least the 1980s. It emerged as a way to describe the tendency for projects, particularly in software development, to expand beyond their original objectives. As Agile methodologies have become more popular, managing Scope Creep has become an even more critical skill for project managers.


  • Scope Creep is always bad: While uncontrolled Scope Creep can be harmful, some degree of change is expected and can be beneficial in Agile methodologies, as long as it’s managed effectively.
  • Scope Creep only happens in large projects: Scope Creep can occur in any project, regardless of size.
  • Scope Creep is the client’s fault: While clients often request changes, it’s the project manager’s responsibility to manage these requests and control the project scope.


  • Scope Creep vs Change Request: Scope Creep is an uncontrolled change to the project scope, while a change request is a formal process to handle changes.
  • Scope Creep vs Gold Plating: Scope Creep is the addition of features or functions not originally planned, while gold plating is adding extra features or functions beyond the project’s requirements.

Related Concepts

  • Project Scope
  • Change Management
  • Agile Methodologies
  • Project Management
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