Scope creep occurs when the original goals of a project are expanded during the course of the work. This may involve a mix of quite small adjustments, as well as larger changes, which in total result in a substantial increase in the resources and time required to complete a project. In many cases, scope creep causes a project to fail, because an organization cannot afford to fund the additional requirements. Or, the project is partially completed, with the deliverable comprised of a mix of the original requirements and subsequent change requests.
There are a number of possible reasons for scope creep, including the following:
- Work begins before a thorough requirements analysis has been completed
- The original specifications document was not sufficiently detailed
- There is no gateway system in place for formally reviewing and approving proposed changes
- There are no project stakeholders who are willing to put a stop to proposed changes
To minimize scope creep, the project manager should evaluate each change request, estimate its impact on resource requirements, and consult with the project sponsors to see if they are willing to accept (and fund) the request.