According to This Old House, “While you’re at it…” are the four most expensive words in the English language. Scope creep is what happens when additional or uncontrolled changes affect the budget and timeline of a project.
Remember that as soon as a change is made or a problem uncovered, the price just increased and the project just got longer. This is Wikipedia’s take on scope creep:
This phenomenon can occur when the scope of a project is not properly defined, documented, or controlled. It is generally considered a negative occurrence, and thus, should be avoided. Typically, the scope increase consists of either new products or new features of already approved product designs, without corresponding increases in resources, schedule, or budget. As a result, the project team risks drifting away from its original purpose and scope into unplanned additions. As the scope of a project grows, more tasks must be completed within the budget and schedule originally designed for a smaller set of tasks. Thus, scope creep can result in a project team overrunning its original budget and schedule.
So how do you prevent it? The first step is the proper scoping of the project so that you can start the project with the best possible cost and time estimates and accurately assess priorities.