Scope creep is a terminology generally used for increase in the scope of work agreed up, legally or otherwise. It generally gives a feeling that it is surreptitiously being pushed in. There are general perceptions about the nature of work encapsulating one particular task, but the clarity is missing. Based on mutual trust the work starts, then there are requests on a regular basis to increase the scope, which more often than not leads to business deals not taking place or going off beat even before the work has really started. This has its toll on the IT and Tech projects mostly in dealing with the non-tech customers, who take a long time to understand the sanctity of the scope of work and the mess scope creep can create.
Why does scope creep happen? The first and foremost is lack of enough thought and deliberations in a professionally free environment. For any scope to be well thought out, there is a need for a reasonable amount of time, some effort to find the exact nitty gritty of the problem statement being addressed, cross check with relevant people within or outside your organization and validation from wherever required. The crux of the matter is that when it is finally brought down to the last version for action, one should safely say that no stone was left unturned and nothing was left to doubt. As there is an urgency to start the work and every single detail is not validated by the company which agrees to take up the job. The teams who deliver the work are different from the marketing guys who closed the deal.
The other issue is the differential levels of understanding of the same, and with technology it can be a world of a difference, even with prevalent technologies, given the complexity of the project. Project is not an item sale. The pre-project scope creep stalls the project for a long time and in the projects which are already in the execution, it can stall, delay or disorient depending on the nature of the scope creep. In all fairness some number of changes are inbuilt into project management and that is catered to without it making any great difference to project financials or the time taken to execute the project. If it crosses that threshold, then the issues crop up. You can see the fate of tech / IT projects all around you.
Indians being smart as they are, the customer at times leaves scope for scope of creep. Scope creep deliberately or otherwise cannot con the other party into delivering because he has not been a party to it. All projects have time, money and quality commitments and some of it gets impacted for sure. In a country which is bad in expression and documentation, this has turned out to be our permanent fate. The other prevalent practice with many is that they push the scope creep as if asking for small changes, and the vendor or company is unnecessarily not attending to it. On the cost side, nobody is ready to budge. In pure software projects there is always the perennial challenge of the change request and the battles that emanate out of it.
A PERFECT SCOPE OF WORK, IS HALF THE PROJECT BATTLE WON.