Scope creep (also called requirement creep, function creep and feature creep) in project management refers to uncontrolled changes or continuous growth in a project's scope.  This can occur when the scope of a project is not properly defined, documented, or controlled.  Although scope creep can lead to advancements in the robustness of an application, It is generally considered harmful.  Scope creep typically results in clients wanting to add features without wanting to add resources or fund addtional development.

Sadly, many web projects end up going something like this:

  1. Discovery happens, client and developer agree on everything; Everyone is excited
  2. Developer goes off and builds the site according to what the client wanted
  3. Developer presents the site to the client and, overall, the client likes it. But “something” is off. The client says something akin to, “It’s great, but it would be better if…” or “Could we make it work this way?”
  4. The developer makes the changes and bills the client appropriately
  5. The client gets angry because they see the site as not having been developed correctly, whereas the developer thinks the client is changing their mind
  6. Both parties end up frustrated. Someone ends up paying for the changes, and the relationship suffers

“Scope creep” affects everyone. Most people try to avoid it like the plague having once experienced the scenario outlined above. Often times until the client actually sees the end product, they aren’t sure what they want. They know how to get from point A to point B, but they can’t see all the way to point X, Y, or Z. This isn’t a slight toward clients; it’s a natural process that happens to all of us.

When considering a huge project like a website, there is no way you can account for every little detail, especially when advanced functionality is being integrated. Instead of getting frustrated when “scope creep” happens, let’s use it to our advantage.

Here at DropForge Labs, we include the client in the development process at every stage. (See the graphic below for more details)

The minute we have a wire-framed prototype of the site, we let the client see it. We utilize a 3+ tiered hosting/development environmnent so that stakeholders can see, feel, and experience applications in real-time during development.  Nothing compares to clicking around and exploring the actual website as it is being built. Having this ability lets the client find “opportunities” for improvement.

When one such opportunity does arise, we can assess the value proposition afforded by a potential increase in scope.

Therefore, plan for a little extra in the budget;you will thank yourself when new ideas come to you (you know they will) after seeing the semi-finished product.


chertzog's picture

Chris Hertzog

CEO / President