Some Thoughts on Scope Creep

According to wikipedia (and various other sources), scope creep is defined as follows: Scope creep (also called requirement 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. It is generally considered harmful.  

In an agile project, however, sometimes uncontrolled changes can be a good thing.  The whole point of agile software development is to be “agile”.  We need to be able to pivot based on market/customer demands/need.  Market needs and trends change regularly, so by doing smaller projects and then breaking those into smaller chunks (iterations), we are able to readjust to get the market/customer what they need/want. Faster. With less waste.  

While uncontrolled changes can be good things in an agile project, continuous growth cannot.  If we are continually growing our backlog, then when will our project be done?  If we continually grow the list of things we are currently working on, then how can we meet our iteration goals or commitments?  Backlog growth comes, but it should be managed for FUTURE releases/upgrades/enhancements.  If the stakeholders really want these extra additions, then expectations should be set and all risks/consequences need to be thoroughly communicated.

How do YOU control scope creep?  Sound off!  

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