Scope Creep is a phrase used in project management. It occurs when the original goals of the project are shifted to encompass more work BEFORE the original work has been completed. It’s applicable to any field where a client has hired an individual or a firm to complete a project.
How does it happen? After the work got started, the client realized they had more, related work they wanted done. The client wants to go ahead and add it to the list of work currently being done. This isn’t a irrational request, and maybe the client spoke up because they didn’t want to set it aside for a month only to forget about it. It can’t hurt while it’s top of mind to ask, right?
I think it can hurt, though, to accept the new work too soon without reassessing what’s required and what that costs. Anytime anyone is asked to do more than originally assigned, they need to take a moment, reassess the time that will be required for the newly added work, totally rewrite the contract’s deliverables section if need be, and renegotiate their payment terms if need be. Everyone on the team needs to know what the new deliverables are, if that’s handled verbally between the client and just one team member, no one’s on the team is on the same page any more. The project could easily fail due to a simple communication breakdown like this one.
Maybe individuals or firms are afraid to be assertive and say no because they are afraid of losing the whole contract, especially for a high-profile client. But I find failing to set limits and boundaries early on leads to more and more work, and more and more grief, for less and less pay.
Is that what anyone wants long term? I don’t think so.
Scope Creep in real life: