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Struggling with Project Scope Creep

Scope creep is every project manager’s biggest challenge.

When a project’s scope gets expanded to include ambitious work that was never planned for, it can disrupt the original project plan, stretch the timeline and blow away the budget. Some call it featuritis, as in “We’d like to add these features that weren’t included in the initial project.” When software developers are asked to haphazardly include strange, orphaned features, their software becomes bloated with additions that seem out of place. Hence the term “software bloat.”

Are you feeling bloated? You might be due for a surprise addition at any moment. Scope creep can make you the babysitter of someone else’s unplanned brainchild. As a project manager with a new, unexpected addition to the family, all of its needs, complaints, kicking and screaming becomes your problem.

Some try to prevent project scope creep by explicitly defining the plan, timeline and budget of a project on paper. It’s a good strategy, but those set-in-stone documents can often get ignored if someone has a sudden brilliant epiphany that must go into the project. After all, “big picture” people can’t be bothered with silly trivialities like budget, resources and project scope, right?

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