I am the director of customer service for a software company in North Carolina. Although I typically do not act as a project manager for our software projects, I do function in an account management role. This means that I manage the customers that are undergoing software projects with us. This gives me an indirect window into our project process. From my perspective, scope creep happens after the project scope and deliverables are defined and commitments in resources, schedule and funds have already been allocated. As our project team works to complete the project deliverables, the customer’s expectations often increase above what was originally defined.
This happens unusually often within our software projects especially with respect to timelines and work statements. For example, the original software development project was projected to take 500 hours to complete. Half way into the 500 hours, the customer realizes that the functionality originally scoped does not “do” exactly what they want it to “do.” The project manager is looking at another 200 hours of work to complete the software design based on the customer’s expectations. Now, the project manager is faced with either delivering less than expected, or the project will be completed much later than planned. Software project managers often call this type of scope creep “feature creep”.