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Scope creep

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Scope creep (also called requirement creep, or kitchen sink syndrome) in project management is continuous or uncontrolled growth in a project's scope, generally experienced after the project begins.[1] This can occur when the scope of a project is not properly defined, documented, or controlled. It is generally considered harmful.[2][3]: 13  It is related to but distinct from feature creep, because feature creep refers to features, and scope creep refers to the whole project.

Common causes[edit]

Poorly defined project scope[edit]

Ineffective project management communication between a client and the project manager is a leading effect of project scope creep. An assignment that is not understood correctly will turn out to be completely different from clients vision. With that being said clients can also be to blame as they may not see a clear vision of what they want.[4][unreliable source?]

Failure to capture all requirements[edit]

Properly defining project scope requires thorough investigation by the project manager during the initial planning phase of a project. Failure to gather all information from all relevant stakeholders is a common reason for incomplete scope statements and missing requirements, which can frequently and easily lead to scope creep later in the project. It is essential that everyone on the team understands the project requirements thoroughly -- and that the project sponsor and relevant stakeholders have signed off on those requirements -- before execution of the project begins.[5]

Lack of project management practices[edit]

Adoptions and adhering to project management practices and project management processes are confirmed methods of preventing scope creep from dismantling the project.

Addition of unnecessary features[edit]

Sometimes project teams tend to start adding additional features in order to impress the client.[6]: 482  This may not work and tend to cause more work for such project and throw off the scope.

The communication gap between project stakeholders[edit]

Another huge cause of scope creep is the communication gap between the stakeholders. Clients may not respond quickly enough to the project managers causing the project to run into a bottleneck.

These aspects can affect the operational efficiencies of companies, especially when involved in long-term relationships.[7] Scope creep is a risk in most projects. Most megaprojects fall victim to scope creep (see Megaprojects and Risk). Scope creep often results in cost overrun. A "value for free" strategy is difficult to counteract and remains a difficult challenge for even the most experienced project managers.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lewis, James (2002). Fundamentals of Project Management (Second ed.). AMACOM. pp. 29, 63. ISBN 0-8144-7132-3.
  2. ^ Kendrick, Tom (2015). "Chapter 3. Identifying Project Scope Risk". Identifying and Managing Project Risk: Essential Tools for Failure-Proofing Your Project (3rd ed.). AMACOM. pp. 50–52. ISBN 978-0-8144-3609-7.
  3. ^ Sanghera, Paul (2019). PMP in Depth (Third ed.). Apress. ISBN 978-1-4842-3910-0.
  4. ^ "Managing Scope Creep in Project Management". Villanova University. February 22, 2023. Archived from the original on July 11, 2014. Retrieved June 16, 2023.
  5. ^ Guerrero, Felicia, PMP. "What is Scope Creep and How Can You Control It?". All Things Project Management. Retrieved October 14, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ Sanghera, Paul (2019). PMP in Depth (Third ed.). Apress. ISBN 978-1-4842-3910-0.
  7. ^ Invernizzi, Diletta Colette; Locatelli, Giorgio; Brookes, Naomi J. (July 4, 2018). "The need to improve communication about scope changes: frustration as an indicator of operational inefficiencies" (PDF). Production Planning & Control. 29 (9): 729–742. doi:10.1080/09537287.2018.1461949. ISSN 0953-7287. S2CID 116129580.