What is scope creep?


Definition Of A Scope Creep

Scope creep (also known as feature creep in product management) is the tendency for a project’s criteria and deliverables to expand or diverge over time. As customers and other stakeholders seek additional features and capabilities, the scope of a project will frequently expand over its existence. The fact that this is a natural (and required) part of any product development process is not the issue; the issue arises when teams become preoccupied with the wrong things.

After the basic criteria for a product have been established, customer expectations can change. Therefore effective product management requires a high degree of adaptability. However, any changes made must be in line with the overall product strategy; otherwise, teams risk squandering resources (and producing subpar solutions) by focusing on the wrong things.

What Causes Scope Creep To Occur?

Scope creep can take many forms, but the most typical is when teams begin to incorporate more functionality or enhancements that managers did not sufficiently prioritize in the project’s roadmap. While external conditions are frequently blamed for scope creep, it can also be caused by a lack of consensus among team members, internal misunderstandings, or weaknesses in product (or project) management processes.

The project team may seek to surpass expectations and give “additional value” by introducing unrequested functionality for various reasons. When demands for extra capabilities are made, managers frequently fail to buy in more time and budget, hence resulting in the scope to creep.

Consequences Of Scope Creep

The image of a boiling frog is often used to illustrate the concept of scope creep. Like the frog in a pot of gently simmering water, product managers are typically oblivious of scope creep until the situation approaches boiling point and they are faced with a delay or financial problem.

Cost projections are typically the first to be abandoned. Budgets can quickly become unmanageable if integrating additional requests and updates leads to team hours spent over the original resourcing forecasts. Extra development time can have knock-on effects such as higher design, manufacturing, and fulfillment costs, which can harm the product’s profitability (or project). Ultimately, unchecked scope creeps severely influence product quality and user experience.

How To Deal With Scope Expansions

Staying on top of scope creep requires a well-defined product roadmap that tracks changes in project requirements and their impact on priorities and timelines. A good product roadmap can also serve as the foundation for a change management approach that comprises the phases below:

●      Keep track of the current status of a product.

●      Understand the project’s original scope as well as its fundamental purpose.

●      It is vital to track progress and compare it to the primary goal to establish how far the current project has deviated from the original plan.

●      You must document every change in requirements and the amount to which product development has been affected as a result.

●      Evaluate proposals for changes to provide recommendations or assess whether you should challenge them.

●      Ensure that all changes are processed, documented, and broken down into actionable tasks to maintain compliance.

Example of Scope Creep

“Scope creep” is more common than you might think within project teams. Here are a couple of examples highlighting the few examples of scope creep:

●      A 54-week delay in the inauguration of a public library was blamed on a slew of last-minute alterations to the architecture plan. Because key stakeholders were not consulted promptly and their feedback had to be integrated during implementation, contractors did not complete the baggage handling system at Denver Airport on time.

●      Aspects like how manufacturers would deliver cars to dealerships on time were not considered when the Chrysler PT Cruiser was released. As a result, there were significant delays, and consumers switched to other manufacturers. Scope creep can occur if any aspect of a project is left unresolved from the start.

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