Surviving Scope Creep

Scope Creep

Scope Creep; the process of introducing new parameters and approaches to implement a project.

The most common example is when a coworker, management, customer, or end-user asks a question like “Wouldn’t it be better if we did such and such?“ or “Would it mess things up too much if we decided to change this or that?“


1.      If you incorporate a new suggestion, however reasonable, you risk derailing the existing project plan that you’ve worked so hard to develop. The idea may appear innocuous, but it’s surprising how few trivial changes can force significant changes in timing and budget.

2.      Accepting a suggestion can encourage the team to make further suggestions, and before you know it, the entire objective of the project has moved on dramatically but not in the direction of the goal line. You may find that the impact of the suggested moves on the original objectives is very damaging.


1.      Fear of saying, “No, or Not yet.” Fear of appearing to oppose the wishes of a superior.

2.      Underestimation of the financial and personal effect of changing the scope of the project.

3.      Over-optimism on the new suggestion to improve a potentially tricky situation.

4.      Lack of or waning faith in the original project plan, which reflects poorly on the process.

5.      Technical team’s desire to over-engineer a solution to inject its proprietary take on the original plan.


1.      Go back to the original Project Plan and to the reasons for launching in the project in the first place. If you believe the logic of the first plan, the reasons for moving the goalposts are going to have to be very convincing.

2.      Think through the consequences of not making the changes and be honest about the repercussions of abstaining.

3.      Acknowledge suggestions and document them for later use. Often, changes can best occur after the initial project infrastructures are implemented.

4.      Don’t be afraid. Be honest with your team leadership and explain why the proposed changes could hinder the overall project. 

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Mark Howie

Mark Howie founded ABT | Abacus Black Technologies in response to the need for small to medium-sized businesses in the Central and South-Eastern United States East to have access to a full-service IT department without the overhead expenses of in-house systems and personnel. Mark has authored publications including: "Fundamentals of IT Auditing" and "Securing your Networks." He is US Army veteran, married to his soulmate of 27 years, and father of two. He resides with his family and two dachshunds, just north of Ocean Springs, MS.