What Is Project Scope Creep? How Can You Prevent It?

Updated: Mar 12


Are your projects in danger of scope creep? How can scope creep cause financial, organizational, and morale problems? And what can you do to prevent scope creep? Here are a few key things to know about this common issue every company will face at some point.


What Is Project Scope Creep?

Scope creep refers to the tendency for projects, once started, to stray off the path or balloon as they encounter various obstacles and opportunities.


For example, consider a restaurant that wants to add a food truck. It creates a project to design the truck and menu, then obtain all the equipment. As they work, the committee sees the chance to embrace new technology or try an untested vehicle design. Maybe some members want to feature an entirely new line of food. Or changes in the truck's technology necessitate the restaurant change its software as well.


Individually, a change or two could be good for the project. But as they add up, all these new elements take it further and further from what was originally envisioned for the team.


Why Is Scope Creep Bad for You?

Businesses budget for projects they need to accomplish. They budget an amount of time and energy to be devoted to a project, personnel to be taken away from other activities, and a level of financial investment to get it done. So any form of unplanned expansion throws off all these budgets. This can then bleed over as it hinders people from other work or other clients, calls for more money, and delays completion.


Scope creep is also bad for employees' morale. As your staff works on the project, they will become frustrated with constant changes — especially if these negate their work or make them redo things. It can also increase conflict within the group, making it harder to stay focused on the shared goal. And taking away resources from other areas affects everyone working for you.


How Can You Prevent Scope Creep?

Careful project management from the planning to completion stages is vital to prevent things from drifting away from the original goal. First, your project must have clear stages and steps. Everyone involved — from clients to committees to individuals — must be clear about the parameters from the outset.


Another key control feature is managing how changes are added to the project. Who can make or deny changes? Who can request them? What is the approval process? What steps must be taken after a change is authorized? How will project members be notified and given tools to adjust? And how much leeway does each team member need? Answering these questions allows some changes while keeping them in check.


How Does Project Management Software Help?

No matter what type of project you have or how experienced your team is at managing it, good software can help. Project management software allows the team to create clear tasks and stages, assign roles, collaborate with one another, share and contribute to documents, check off tasks, see budgets, and communicate with everyone.


You can customize the parameters of the software for your particular project, too. On the food truck design team, for instance, perhaps you have a group choosing point of sale technology. You might allow the entire project team or only some users to offer input. Then, the POS group may be allowed to see all the choices, but only one member can actually order any changes to the design.


Where Can You Learn More?

Could your business use help preventing projects from creeping outward and causing trouble for everyone? If so, begin by learning how Project-assistant.com can help. No matter what your challenges are, our project management services can help take control of them. Visit today to get started.