Scope Creep is the adding of features and functionality (project scope) without addressing the effects on time, costs, and resources, or without customer approval. (PMI, 2008, p 440).
Scope Creep is a problem because it impacts on time, cost and resource in an uncontrolled way. The Iron Triangle
tells us that adding a new feature (which is a change to scope) will effect time or cost. For example, to build a new feature a software developer will need time and his/her time will cost money. The additional time and money won't be in the project plan so the new feature will cause the project to be delayed and/or go over budget.
Project Managers battle with scope creep throughout the project lifecycle
. Requests for changes in scope can come from anyone involved in the project including from within the project team
(it can be exciting to tweak and add features). Scope Creep is so ubiqituous that it should be included on every risk register
see risk register of common project risks
Remember that scope creep is adding unauthorised features so the risk can be mitigated
by documenting each and every example of scope creep NO MATTER HOW SMALL in a change request
and getting authorisation from the Project Board
BEFORE STARTING WORK. This includes ZERO COST changes.
The image captioned "Scope Creep Definition" in this article, uses artwork provided by Harned, Brett, 2017, New York: Rosenfeld Media. The artwork is available at
. The image is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license
Project Management Institute. (2008). A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK® guide)— Fourth Edition. Newtown Square, PA: Author.