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Agile Practices

How to avoid scope creep

by Keith Richards
Learn how to master scope control — read our article to prevent project overruns.
How to avoid scope creep


In my experiences of dealing with hundreds of companies, scope creep is cited as one of the biggest problems people face with their projects and the way they work. Sometimes it is actually the biggest single problem.


In this video, Keith Richards, the Founder of agileKRC and Lead Author and Chief Examiner for Agile Project Management (AgilePM) and Lead Author of PRINCE2 Agile explains everything you need to know about scope creep.

In this presentation Keith covers the following:

  • What causes scope creep?
  • What is the difference between good scope creep and bad scope creep?
  • How do you avoid bad scope creep?
  • Does the role of the product owner create scope creep?
  • How do you control scope creep appropriately?

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To see a PDF version of the presentation used in this video, click the button below.

Good scope creep

However, some scope creep is desirable, and some isn’t – the trick is to encourage and embrace the scope creep that is good and to eliminate the scope creep that is bad.

The good scope creep is all about becoming more accurate with your solution which is what I refer to as the ‘depth’ of the solution – as the saying goes “the devil is in the detail”. With respect to the depth of the scope one thing we need to do is to avoid defining too much detail during the early stages.

Bad scope creep

The most common problems of scope creep occur due to a lack of upfront work on a project. Changes due to a poor project start-up leads to what I call ‘bad’ scope creep.

Avoiding bad scope creep

There are several ways to avoid this with the two main ones being the need to build firm foundations at the beginning of a project. This would include things like clearly identifying the strategic fit of the work being undertaken and clearly defining the objectives and drivers for the project. If this is done correctly the ‘breadth’ of the scope is defined well and has every chance of being stable throughout the project.

It is when the breath of the scope changes that an organisation feels pain when they are trying to deliver projects or products.

Another area which can help avoid bad scope creep is that of business/customer engagement and this should be from day one and should continue throughout the start-up period and stay present all of the way through to the end of the project.

So not all scope creep is bad and in fact some of it is very welcome; you just need to have the right kind of scope creep!

Learn from agile leaders

agileKRC has helped shape agile thinking by leading the teams that developed AgilePM® and PRINCE2 Agile®. We take a practical, success-oriented approach. We begin by taking the time to listen and understand your needs, before offering our real-world experience and expert guidance.

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