Scope Creep Definition

Scope creep refers to the change in a project's scope after the project work has started. Typically, the scope expands by the addition of new features to an already approved feature list. As a result, the project drifts away from its original purpose, timeline, and budget.

This change in scope often comes about from small, seemingly insignificant change requests that the project team accepts to keep the project sponsor happy. Eventually, the change requests become numerous enough that they are significant or one of the requests turns out to require much more work than expected.

Scope creep can come about from:

  • Poor change control.
  • Lack of proper identification of the features that are required to bring about the achievement of project objectives in the first place.
  • Weak project manager or executive sponsor

Other Definitions

I've also put together a description of project management fundamentals if you're interested in learning more about this profession.

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  1. This is incorrect Scope Creep is unauthorized and uncontrolled change not incremental change.

    • I disagree JD. The "creep" part refers to the sometimes surprising situation you find yourself in after having agreed to what seem like small requests, but that end up being significant.

      As for your contention that they are unauthorized, I disagree there too. Someone has authorized the changes, implicitly or explicitly, otherwise they wouldn't be a problem i.e. scope creep is only a problem because of the unplanned time and effort the new functionality requires.

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