Scope Creep Project Management


The concept of project scope may be one of the most ample in project management. It involves objectives, limits and intentions. Every requirement in a project as well as its characteristics must be dealt with when planning the scope. Even though it’s reasonable to say that every project is unique, the causes for which it fails are generally the same. And if you already know what these causes are, you can minimize the likelihood of problems being repeated and thus increase the chance of success.

It has been said that you can often detect if a project is going to fail in its first two months. Projects are normally approved and initiated with unrealistic expectations and with an excess of optimism. These expectations can inflate beyond reasonability during the execution of a project, often resulting in what is called 都cope creep It’s important to manage expectations, particularly to those stakeholders that are not heavily involved in the project.

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This issue is going to be addressed in this assignment and some practical solutions will be proposed as a way to manage and control this problem. 2


Scope Creep is a term used by project managers to describe the extra deliverables or additional requirements that were not planned in the project’s initial phase.

According to the HBR Guide to Project Management (2012) ‘scope creep’ is the tendency (often as a result of pressure from stakeholders) to permit changes that exceed a project’s scope and may wreak havoc on the schedule, the quality of the work, or the budget.

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As it was often cited in class, no project can achieve success without proper coordination between three essentials: scope, schedule and cost. Change one, and the other two will be impacted. On the other hand, trying to prohibit all changes to a project is often fruitless and can have very adverse consequences.

According to the Project Management Institute (PMI, 2013), 壮cope creepis the incremental expansion of the project痴 scope e.g. through additional work requests – without the necessary readjustment of the other two elements: schedule and cost.

As most projects are required to meet deadlines with resource restrains, managing the scope creep through careful planning and control is an essential ability to every project manager. There are a number of causes for scope creep in projects, and these will be addressed in the next chapters as well as a few solutions to prevent further damage to the project.


Scope creep can be one of the worst enemies of a project manager, specially if it’s not adequately addressed. It includes anything that was not part of the initial scope and was added without passing through an evaluation process.

According to Shore (2014), a project that starts out to achieve one set of results may find that it has many more objectives added on to it before it is complete. Because a project’s scope is mapped out in advance, success on this dimension can be gauged at any point in time partly by whether the project is reaching its objectives.

A small increase in scope may not have a big impact, but if there’s an accumulation of these, the project may have its budget or schedule significantly increased. Assuming that you know what is needed, without proper investigation and analysis and underestimating the complexity of a project are common mistakes, but there are a number of other causes for scope creep. Some of these are:

Scope not clearly defined in the Project Plan;
Not giving sufficient time for requirements; lack of proper analysis; Lack of communication with significant stakeholders;

Change in business or technical landscape.

In addition to these, one cause that is often cited is gold plating which is the practice of exceeding the scope of a project in the belief it is adding value. It’s important to notice that this belief is not guaranteed and could lead to a significant increase in scope. The knowledge of this common occurrence may prove beneficial when there is a need to address this matter with a sponsor, a client or other stakeholders.

Needless to say, when every item on a project is addressed in a specific, measurable and achievable way, most of these issues won’t arise. A few solutions to scope creep will be addressed in the next chapter. 4


When addressing solutions for this particular problem, it’s reasonable to first understand what is expected of the project and collaborate to achieve maximum levels of communication with stakeholders. Taking a practical approach is always useful when dealing with clients and sponsors. A few of the solutions that address scope creep are:

Define and document the scope of the project in a clear and tangible manner;
Conduct scope specified meetings with stakeholders;
Regulate what is acceptable in change requirements with the team;
Associate a price tag to every new requirement;
Use control mechanisms as a change control board and change management forms;
Define project risks and mitigation plans that affect scope

Another solution is acquiring software that allows you to manage key elements of the project. Win(win) software has management tools that control scope creep. It tracks budget and has milestones watch lists set for the projects to give clear indication if suppliers are on track and if the project will be delivered on time. It gives alerts and allows you to easily share the content with stakeholders. This could help giving support and control over issues in a manageable way.


Managing scope creep wisely will always be fundamental to every project’s approach towards achieving its goals. It may be one of the most challenging aspects, but the most important factor to prevent it, is to understand where things go awry and get out ahead of the issue. Taking a proactive approach should make the project run more smoothly.


HBR (2012). Guide to Project Management. Boston: Harvard Business Review Press.

Shore, David A. (2014). Launching and Leading Change Initiatives in HealthCare Organizations. Boston: Jossey-Bass.

PMI. 2013. Project Management Institute. (ONLINE) Available at: (Accessed 13 January 15).

University Alliance (2014) Managing Scope Creep in Project Management. (ONLINE) Available at: (Accessed 13 January 15)

PM Docs. 2011. How to Manage Scope Creep. (ONLINE) Available at: (Accessed 13 January 15).

Bob McGannon. 2013. Insights from a Project Manager. (ONLINE) Available at: (Accessed 13 January 15).

YFS Magazine. 2012. How to Avoid Project Management 全cope CreepAt All Costs. (ONLINE) Available at: (Accessed 13 January 15).

Richard Bellanca. 2008. Beat the Omnipresent Scope Creep With Communications. (ONLINE) Available at: (Accessed 13 January 15).

Daily Record. 2012. Combating scope creep for Project Managers. (ONLINE) Available at: (Accessed 12 January 15).

Win(win) Software (2015) Large Hotel Chain Manages Scope Creep Using WIN(win). (ONLINE) Available at: (Accessed 13 January 15).

Kareem Shaker. 2010. Scope Creep and Gold Plating are two sides of the same coin. (ONLINE) Available at: (Accessed 12 January 15).

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Scope Creep Project Management. (2016, Aug 24). Retrieved from

Scope Creep Project Management

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