Scope Creep: Pushing the Envelope?

Scope Creep


Scope creep reminds me of joke that likens it to a flying Frisbee: It’s like watching it and then wondering why it’s getting bigger… until it hits you! And trust me, it hurts!

Scope Creep = Scope getting larger

Scope creep results when the scope gets bigger and bigger without an increase in budget and time. Often times, it’s because the client discovers additional requirements on the go or the sales team have promised something that doesn’t exist.


Scope Creep ≠ Increase of (budget + Time)

It leads to poor quality of work, adversely impacts the project’s profitability and employee morale.

Example: A 30-hour job creeps into 55 hours and employees find no time for testing or for their family


Any one of the below or all lead to Scope Creep:

  • Poorly/loosely defined scope
  • Indecisive Stakeholders – not sticking to the agreed upon Scope of Work
  • Gold plating with no guaranteed customer satisfaction but adversely impacting project profitability
  • Engaging the clients very late in the development cycle
  • Ineffective Client Relation Management and poor customer on-boarding
  • Poor/lack of change management processes 


Scope Creep can be controlled by:

  • Proper Stakeholder management (clear definition of In-Scope vs. Out of Scope)
  • Setting up an effective Change Management Process
  • Up-Selling: Allow Scope Creep but make money
  • Adopting Agile Product Development


As a Product Manager when caught in a Scope Creep situation, it’s very important to ask yourself what’s the problem you are trying to solve and the end goal? For example, which of these Swiss Knives would you want to build for your customer segment? Are you sure all of your customers want this? Will your revenue numbers and market share grow if you build Swiss Knife 2 vs. Swiss Knife 1 and vice versa?

BUT (there’s always a “but” for any argument), next time when a new request comes in, take a pause and patiently deliberate over it. That specific scope creep you’ve been battling might just be the one thing that makes your product succeed. Something to ponder over!


Our Book: Mystery to Mastery – Ideation to Productization Playbook