The project that comes to mind when I think about scope creep is our kitchen-remodeling project. We had talked about remodeling the kitchen for a couple of years. The cabinets were from the 1980's when the house was first built and there was an "L" shaped countertop between the kitchen and dining room with a row of overhead cabinets that everyone bumped their heads on. I wanted to remove this countertop and row of cabinets to give the kitchen a nice "open" feeling that flowed into the dining room space.
The project kick-off was the water leak in the attic that caved in the ceiling in the kitchen. Since we had to do the ceiling repairs, we decided it was the perfect time to start the remodeling job. We removed all the old cabinets, removed the old appliances, and tore out the old floor tiling in anticipation of the new kitchen. After much planning, measuring, drawing, erasing, redrawing, re-measuring, and more planning, we finally came up with a design that met everyone's expectations.
Now it was off to Home Depot to pick out the new cabinets and appliances. We started out with a budget of $15,000.00. Since we were going to do the installation ourselves (my husband is quite the handy man), we figured we would save enough on labor to cover the cost of the new sink and maybe some of the appliances. I was excited to find a nice set of cabinets that fit perfectly with my taste for quality and they were on sale (how convenient). However, the cabinets were going to cost about $12,000.00 and we had not even looked at a sink, appliances, flooring, lights, or the cost of repairing the ceiling. By the time I had finished picking out all the items I wanted in my new kitchen, we were up to almost $25,000.00. It was at that point that my husband took control of the scope creep. He told me I needed to rethink my wants and needs. He said I could have a nice kitchen that was complete and functional or I could have half of my dream kitchen.
Even though we had done a lot of planning and designing, we never actually sat down and separated out the "must haves" from the "nice to haves". We should have made a checklist that included all the items we would need for the kitchen remodel and then prioritized each item accordingly. I easily became carried away by seeing all the available materials and appliances and became more focused on how the kitchen would look rather than how it would function. We should have done a scope analysis and attached a cost and time for each of the remodeling requirements. Scope creep is an evil thing when you are on a budget. A familiar project management adage states there is no such thing as scope creep…only scope g-a-l-l-o-p (Collegiate Project Services, n.d.).
Collegiate Project Services. (n.d.). Managing scope creep: How to keep your project from being late, costing more, and under delivering. Retrieved 2/9/2011 from