Scope creep (also called requirement creep, or kitchen sink syndrome) in project management refers to changes, continuous or uncontrolled growth in a project’s scope, at any point after the project begins. This can occur when the scope of a project is not properly defined, documented, or controlled. It is generally considered harmful. It is related to but distinct from feature creep, because feature creep refers to features and project creep refers to the whole project.
Scope creep can be a result of:
- poor change control
- lack of proper initial identification of what is required to bring about the project objectives
- weak project manager or executive sponsor
- poor communication between parties
- lack of initial product versatility
Scope creep is a risk in most projects. Most megaprojects fall victim to scope creep (see Megaprojects and Risk). Scope creep often results in cost overrun. A "value for free" strategy is difficult to counteract and remains a difficult challenge for even the most experienced project managers.
Advantages of scope creep
Scope creep can occasionally have incidentally positive results. For example, the video game The Elder Scrolls: Arena was originally intended to be a "medieval style gladiator game", but due to scope creep, the game quickly expanded into an open-world, epic role-playing game (without the titular arena combat at all), spawning several successful sequels of increasing complexity. Another example is the game Shogun: Total War, which was originally intended to be simply a "B-grade" combat-simulation game, but also expanded scope and resulted in sequels.
- Lewis, James (2002). Fundamentals of Project Management (Second ed.). AMACOM. pp. 29, 63. ISBN 0-8144-7132-3.
- Kendrick, Tom (2015). "Chapter 3. Identifying Project Scope Risk". Identifying and Managing Project Risk: Essential Tools for Failure-Proofing Your Project (3rd ed.). AMACOM. pp. 50–52. ISBN 978-0-8144-3609-7.
- Morrowind Italia (2001-04-09). "Ted Peterson Interview I". Planet Elder Scrolls. Retrieved 2018-10-14.
- Gillen, Kieron (2007-08-24). "The Making of: Shogun: Total War". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved 2018-10-13.