Why is Scope Creep So Problematic?
For any project that involves a rapid exchange of ideas and plans, scope creep is a waiting pitfall. Scope creep quickly leads to an out-of-control and ultimately fruitless project—but many people don’t even see it coming.
Let’s take a look at what this creep is and why it is dangerous before it costs you money!!
Scope Creep: Definition and How it Happens
Scope creep usually occurs in a new project, especially when those tackling the project have little experience in the field and or have too many decision makers involved. This occurs when the “scope” of the project is subject to unhealthy changes, usually going too far beyond the original plans until the project grows too large, complex, and contradictory…eventually stalling out.
Scope creep can happen in many ways. A product design may start accumulating too many features until creating the product is no longer even feasible. A computer system upgrade project may start adding so many departments and different hardware that it becomes too complex to implement. A new marketing plan can add
so many channels and target markets that its budget spirals out of control. A large client project can start seeing so many new demands that meeting the project deadline become a distant dream.
Dangers and Causes of Scope Creep: In any form, scope creep is bad news for a project team.
It isn’t necessarily anyone’s fault—a common cause of scope creep is general excitement about a project and the rapid exchange of ideas. The problem is when ideas and brainstorming get out of control. It quickly reaches a point where the project starts to collapse under its own weight. Usually, this means that a crucial control or level of understanding is not being met. Issues that rapidly lead to scope creep include:
- Poor Goal Making: If the goals and requirements for the project are not clear, scope creep appears to widen the cracks.
- Lack of Communication with All Project Members and Users: A new idea, no matter how exciting, needs to be carried through the project and often tested by users before it can be implemented. When an idea is hoarded and adopted by just a few decision makers, it’s a sign of trouble.
- Lack of Experience: If people are new to a project, they may not understand the industry, the limitations of software, the time requirements of certain steps, and much more.
- Change Happens: As a project progress, some change is usually necessary. These changes can evolve into scope creep unless carefully controlled.
- Showing Off: There’s a temptation to add new features or content to a project just because you can. The truth is that you often can’t—not if you want to faithfully meet project goals. It’s best to control expectations and aim for quality over quantity.