Correcting and Controlling Scope Creep

Scope creep is when a project grows beyond its original ambition while in progress. Scope creep can happen for a number of reasons, including: market conditions, user feedback reveals, implementation complexity and poor understanding of the original project’s scope. Uncontrolled growth in project scope at any point after the project has begun is known as scope creep. Scope creep has a negative effect on time, cost, and resources of the project and is a result of uncontrolled additions to the scope of the project outside of change management.

Preventing Scope Creep

Be clear on what is in and out of project scope. Make sure you really understood the vision of the project. Make it a point to meet the project drivers and deliver a thorough overview of the project for comments and reviews. This is the way to prevent scope creep from happening.

Controlling Scope Creep

Plan the possible changes and make contingencies. You must anticipate for possible changes to occur. You can do that by adding a contingency plan so that if something changes you have some buffer time in the schedule. The amount of buffer you add to the plan should be in direct proportion to the level of risk or uncertainty in your project. The more vague the requirements, the more contingency you will need.

Managing Scope Creep

The last and final step is to manage scope creep when it really happens. The easiest way to deliver a project on time and within the budget is just say no to change but sometimes saying no is not always the appropriate answer…If the change will affect any of the key success criteria of the project, you will not be best placed to make that judgment call.

What this means is, if the suggested change impacts the agreed deadline, the allotted budget, or the approved benefits, then the change needs to be escalated to the project’s steering committee or change control board for approval because what is being proposed is something very fundamental to the project.

If the change on the other hand is minor and won’t affect any of the project’s success criteria, it may be within your tolerance to either approve or reject it.


Project managers are concerned with how to say no to changes, but they should be focus on how to manage and control them. First and foremost they have to identify the baseline of the scope by making it crystal clear and reasonably detailed about what is in and what is out of scope. After that, they have to anticipate change by adding enough buffer and contingency to the budget and the schedule. Finally, they have to assess the effect or impact of the change and bring it to the steering committee or change control board if it’s beyond their level of tolerance to make a decision on.

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