What is Scope Creep?

Legal Definition
Scope creep (also called requirement creep, function 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.

If budget, resources, and schedule are increased along with the scope, the change is usually considered an acceptable addition to the project, and the term "scope creep" is not used.

Scope creep can be a result of:

  • poor change control
  • lack of proper initial identification of what is required to bring about the project objectives
  • weak project manager or executive sponsor
  • poor communication between parties
  • lack of initial product versatility

Scope creep is a risk in most projects. Most megaprojects fall victim to scope creep (see Megaprojects and Risk). Scope creep often results in cost overrun. A value for free strategy is difficult to counteract and remains a difficult challenge for even the most experienced project managers.
-- Wikipedia
Legal Definition
A small change in plans that will lead to another small change that will lead to another small change and on it goes.