Scope creep in project management
Project Management

3 min read

Scope creep in Project Management: Meaning, Causes and Strategies to Overcome


Jan 2024


Have you ever heard about 'Scope Creep?'

This is like an unwelcome guest attending a party, and refusing to leave🤢.

Well, in the world of productivity, it is the expansion of project boundaries that exceed beyond what was initially specified in the planning stage.

Okay, imagine that everything seems to be in place. You’ve onboarded and prepared a team and suddenly new features, requests, and tweaks start creeping in. And that possibly creates a feat to undermine the timeline and budget.

But worry not! Kroolo- your online project management software is all here to take the burden off your shoulders and bring everything back into its right place without creating a mess.

Before that, let’s understand scope creep in detail with examples -:


What is Scope Creep?

Scope creep is the unauthorized or uncontrolled expansion of a project beyond its initial targets, and parameters, that tend to increase over a project lifecycle.

This occurs when the project’s requirements, features, or deliverables are added without being evaluated or approved. Scope creep typically leads to longer project timelines, budget overruns resulting from changing requirements, and lower project success.

According to a report by the Project Management Institute (PMI), nearly 50% of the projects experienced scope creep or uncontrolled changes to the project’s scope. 


Detailed Example of Scope Creep

Let's discuss a detailed example of a software development project to develop a simple e-commerce website. The first scope of the project involves developing a platform through which shoppers will be able to search for products, place them in a shopping cart, and finally purchase goods. However, as the project progresses, various instances of scope creep might occur, like -:

  • Additional features requested: When development takes place, stakeholders begin to call for more features like customer reviews, advanced search engines, and recommendation engines which were not in the original scope.
  • Change in requirements: The stakeholders point out that the initial checkout system they had proposed is rather simplistic and needs more sophisticated payment gateways, more complex shipping options, and a guest checkout option.
  • Enhanced visual design: In the final stages of the project, the stakeholders will request a thorough change of the website’s design to make it more visually attractive and interesting even though the initial scope had opted for a simplified approach to design.
  • Integration with external systems: It becomes necessary at the tail end of the project to integrate the website with several external systems that were not planned for such as inventory management, CRM, and analytical tools.

The project scope is increasing in each case, called scope creep. However, the changing conditions must be well monitored and evaluated without fail to minimize delays, overshoots, and dissatisfaction among stakeholders.


Difference Between Initial Scope & Scope Creep

1. Software Development Project

  • Initial scope: A simple mobile application for task management.
  • Scope creep: Stakeholders demand more features like connection to other external programs, a chat function, and a higher level of personalization that was not included in the initial design.

2. Marketing Campaign

  • Initial Scope: Targeting a specific demographic via a social media marketing campaign.
  • Scope Creep: As the campaign advances, stakeholders suggest extending the campaign to several other platforms, including collaborating with influencers and creating extensive content that goes beyond original plans.


Causes of Scope Creep 

Scope creep is caused by different reasons which mostly come out of the project uncertainties, miscommunication, and/or changing requirements in the project. Some of the primary causes of scope creep include:-

1. Poorly defined initial scope

An ill-defined or undocumented project scope leaves room for misinterpretation or assumption, and stakeholders may change their approach based on their understanding. This leads to scope creep and creates havoc at the workplace affecting productivity levels at the helm.

2. Lack of change control

Scope creep may occur as a result of ineffective change management processes or a lack of procedures for evaluation, approval, and incorporation of changes. Failure to control new features and alterations can allow them to be added without inspection.

3. Stakeholder expectations and requests

Stakeholders may have their changing requirements, expectations, and new ideas about the project as it proceeds. If such extra claims are not properly controlled or their impact on the project assessed, scope creep could occur.

4. Undefined or shifting requirements

Scope creep can occur due to changes or ambiguous specifications during the project lifecycle. It becomes difficult to keep the project within the initial limits when there is the emergence of new needs or some changes in current needs.

5. Inadequate planning and estimation

Shallow or poor planning of the initial project may not adequately capture all deliverables and requirements. This failure may result in undoing it requiring further work that ends up as scope creep.

6. Absence of stakeholder involvement or communication

Yearly, companies with a workforce of 100 employees lose an average of $420,000 due to lack of communication. This shows the financial toll of miscommunication on the company which further leads to scoop creep.

This happens majorly due to failure to provide regular updates on progress and engage stakeholders in decision-making. Due to this, it results in misinterpretation of expectations, and unmet needs when the project moves forward.


How to Manage Scope Creep?

Scope creep is still controllable if you can control all your internal factors for desired outcomes. So, let's discuss some methods to battle with scope creep in project management-:

1. Document & clearly define the SOP

The best way to avoid scoop creep is to clearly define the project requirements and document them like a voucher. Leverage the best document management software to create a detailed scope of work outlining objectives, timelines, budget, duties, milestones, and manpower required. sure this document serves as a matter of proof between the client and the company to avoid any miscommunication at a later stage. Share instantly with your client and take written confirmation.

2. Prioritize your project tasks

When all tasks are equally important, it’s important to prioritize them to help your team decide which tasks to focus on first. This makes you organized and lets you set your own deadline to ensure that your task gets completed before the delivery date.

Setting priority

You can invest in Kroolo to set task priorities that remind you to look beyond the immediate and plan. This tool lets you communicate with your project team so they can manage their energy on the right task at the right time after knowing the status of urgency. This is extremely important, especially for complex projects that demand meticulous planning and well-defined structuring. Follow this and say goodbye to scope creep.  

3. Involve the project team

Always involve your team in decision-making and strategy formulation and keep them posted with the feedback received from clients. Because, when a team works in synergy, they take a sense of ownership and show commitment towards the project.

scope creep

Moreover, multiple perspectives often brainstorm unique and smarter ideas. With Kroolo’s online collaboration tool, you can create a specific channel and chat in threads for one particular project. Besides, you can have a transparent and mess-free conversation with your remote team and minimize scope creep.

4. Change management 

Change control in project management establishes structured processes for handling proposed scope alterations. Stakeholders submit detailed change requests using standardized forms or workflows, outlining the change's specifics and rationale.

Timely notifications often disseminate submissions, prompting comprehensive reviews by relevant parties and conducting evaluations to delve into potential impacts on timelines, resources, and overarching project objectives. This systematic approach ensures informed decisions on accepting, rejecting, or analyzing alterations further.

By facilitating deliberate, well-assessed modifications, this process mitigates the risks associated with scope creep, maintaining project alignment with its defined objectives and preventing uncontrolled expansions beyond the agreed-upon scope.

5. Establish a feedback cycle

Scope creep is not a job you can battle in isolation. A project manager needs to understand the nitty-gritty details and financial status of a team. Also, he has to create a strict feedback system to ensure that every team can get ahead of work issues and have a frizz-free understanding of the project.

Because, if you fail to establish strict checkpoints, you may invite scope creep again. And importantly, there should be a clear feedback dialogue between team members, and project managers. Once it is established, you can structurally evaluate the progress, track and amend changes and intelligently work on new milestones if required.

6. Specify timelines and schedules clearly

If you’re using a project management tool, visualize your tasks and their deadlines easily. Use Kanban view or list view to get a clear idea of ‘To-Do’ to ‘Done’. Having a clear-cut schedule and well-defined timelines goes a long way to curb scope creep.


It gives you a better understanding of who is responsible for a particular set of tasks and its progress. Tools like Kroolo help you visualize the project schedule and respective timelines set for multiple tasks easily in one centralized place.  


Battle Scope Creep with Kroolo 

Scoop creep is the most challenging part of project management. It not only leads to delays in delivery but also affects the cost of a project as you often get trapped at the junction of “Give away money” when anyone asks for free work. To avoid this, it's important to have a collaborative review of SOW. Identify gray areas and understand the objective to avoid chances of miscommunication. 

Clear your doubts beforehand and be specific with the deliverables so it doesn't eat away at your project budget. So, mark the beginning and end of your project with Kroolo - your all-in-one productivity partner. 

Sign up today and evade scoop creep for enhanced productivity at the workplace! 

P.S.: Want to know more about Kroolo, click here!


Project Management