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Scope creep (also called requirement creep, function 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.
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.
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.
- Cost overrun
- Instruction creep
- Mission creep
- The Mythical Man-Month
- Second-system effect
- Software bloat
- 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.
- Ted Peterson Interview I, by Morrowind Italia, 2001-04-09 - Planet Elder Scrolls
- The Making of: Shogun: Total War, By Kieron Gillen, August 24th, 2007, Rock, Paper, Shotgun