5 Signs You Have Scope Creep

Scope creep refers to the gradual addition and expansion of project tasks and activities without necessarily expanding the budget or pushing the deadline out further.

Unfortunately, scope creep undermines the overall effectiveness and productivity of the project management team, and it can result in added costs and pressures to your team. As a result, you must identify project scope creep early by learning its five warning signs.

1. The Primary Sign of Scope Creep Is Undefined Project Requirements

Undefined project goals and requirements are the ultimate red flag of scope creep. Undefined goals leave a project susceptible to endless changes and expansion in the name of “meeting the company’s goals.”

Unfortunately, you cannot properly plan and allocate resources if you do not have a specific set of deliverables ready during the planning phase.

2. Project Stakeholders Are Not Involved in Your Project

Stakeholders that are not involved in a project’s status are more likely to give direction and add to scope creep. Ultimately, it is easier to turn down requests for additional project tasks and activities when stakeholders can actually see how it is impacting the project’ s progress.

3. Deliverables Are Not Being Met Consistently

Deliverables are built on the existence of a finite plan for the project, but scope creep results in the addition of requirements within already defined deliverables.

Consequently, your team may have trouble meeting project deliverables, which indicates scope creep is becoming burdensome.

4. You Are Having Trouble Controlling the Budget

Scope creep will inherently detract resources away from your existing project plans. As a result, the budget will appear to become more stretched and difficult to manage.

This sign of scope creep is one of the most difficult to identify, but if you add all changes to a project’s plans into your schedule as they are made, you can identify scope creep in the budget faster.

5. Actual Work Takes Much Longer Than Planned

Scope creep may seem most evident when actual work takes significantly longer than planned. Obviously, you must exclude extraneous risk factors that can lengthen the parts of a project.

For example, problems with weather may cause added delays and increase the amount of time spent working. However, the hours needed to complete the activity should be nearly identical to the amount planned.

If you can learn to identify these warning signs of project scope creep, you can help ensure your project is completed on time, within budget and successfully. While some scope creep should always be expected, your project should not become an endless trail of added activities and unrealistic expectations for the original project’s plans.

Key Things to Remember

  • Vague project descriptions and requirements leave the door open for added tasks and activities throughout the course of your project.
  • Stakeholders should always be involved, but it is easier to increase scope if stakeholders are not necessarily present.
  • Failure to meet deliverables consistently indicates scope creep.
  • Problems controlling the budget may be the result of added tasks due to scope creep.
  • The amount of time actually spent working versus time planned for work should be similar. 

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